Pak govt forms committee on Army chief's reappointment

General Qamar Javed Bajwa(Photo by DH)

Pakistan on Monday constituted a three-member committee of key ministers to draft new legislation on the extension or reappointment of an Army chief's tenure, according to a media report, days after the top court granted a six-month conditional extension to the incumbent General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Minister for Planning Asad Omar are part of the committee, The Express Tribune reported.

The committee was set up after the Supreme Court gave the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan six months to legislate and iron out the lacunae in the reappointment or extension of tenure of an army chief, allowing the incumbent, Gen Bajwa, to stay on as Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) until a new law determined his terms of service.

The members of the committee will also debate on the new legislation with the Opposition parties in Parliament, the report said.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, which faced some anxious moment in the court on the issue during the hearing last week, is hopeful that the requisite law will be drafted within six months, the report said.

During the landmark hearings in the apex court, a three-member bench headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, issued the verdict after the Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan submitted an undertaking to the apex court that Parliament would enact a new law on the matter within six months.

The ruling averted a crisis as Gen. Bajwa was set to retire on the midnight Thursday as COAS. On Tuesday, the apex court suspended a notification issued by Prime Minister Khan on August 19 for Gen Bajwa's reappointment for three years till 2022, citing procedural loopholes.

A short order issued by the Supreme Court said that the current appointment of Gen Bajwa as the COAS would be subject to the new legislation.

It also said that Gen Bajwa will continue as COAS for a period of six months, whereafter the new legislation shall determine his tenure and other terms and conditions of service.

The court pointed out that during hearing on the Army chief's extension, the government kept changing its stance, interchangeably "referring to it as reappointment, limiting of retirement or extension of tenure".

The Khan-led government has asked Parliament to review all existing laws related to the post of the Army chief and is determined to garner support from the Opposition parties, the report said.

Khan may also discuss with Opposition party leaders including Shahbaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman among others, it said, adding that an all-party conference may also be convened by the federal government to discuss the issue.

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