SC fine with Gen. Bajwa to continue as COAS for now
But asks govt to do relevant legislation within 6 months
By Shakeel Ahmed
ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday announced through a short order that General Qamar Javed Bajwa will remain the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another six months, during which the parliament will legislate on the extension/reappointment of an army chief.
A three-member bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mian Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah announced the much-anticipated verdict after being assured by the government that parliament will pass legislation within six months.
According to the short order, the federal government “has presented this court with a recent summary approved by the president on the advice of the prime minister along with a notification dated 28.11.2019 which shows that Gen Bajwa has been appointed as COAS under Article 243(4)(b) of the Constitution with effect from 28.11.2019”.
“The current appointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa as COAS shall be subject to the said legislation and shall continue for a period of six months from today, whereafter the new legislation shall determine his tenure and other terms and conditions of service,” read the court order.
Before announcing the verdict, the court had asked the government to submit an undertaking that the parliament will pass legislation in this regard within six months; issue an amended notification that eliminates mention of the Supreme Court, includes the duration of the army chief’s tenure and the description of his salary and incentives.
The SC’s ruling comes in the nick of time as Gen Bajwa was set to retire at midnight. Prime Minister Imran Khan had extended Bajwa’s tenure through a notification in August, but the top court suspended it on November 26 due to irregularities in the manner of extension.
The court, while pronouncing the decision, said that the government has been given six months to legislate on the duration of service of an army chief.
It said that Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan has “categorically assured the Court” that the federal government “shall initiate the process to carry out the necessary legislation in this regard and seeks a period of six months for getting the needful done”.
“We, while exercising judicial restraint, find it appropriate to leave the matter to the Parliament and the Federal Government to clearly specify the terms and conditions of service of the COAS through an Act of Parliament and to clarify the scope of Article 243 of the Constitution in this regard,” read the court’s short order.
The order observed that the matter of the Army chief’s reappointment or extension had been challenged before the court. It also observed that in the three days of proceedings that followed, the government kept changing its stance, interchangeably “referring to it as reappointment, limiting of retirement or extension of tenure”.
The SC observed that the government had been relying on Article 243(4)(b) of the 1973 Constitution and Regulation 255 of the Army Regulations (Rules), 1998. The court observed that when it asked questions pertaining to the army chief’s appointment, duration of service and extension, the attorney general was unable to refer to any existing law.
The court reviewed the laws contained within Article 243 of the Constitution while deciding on the matter. “The court has thoroughly examined Article 243(4)(b),” said Chief Justice Khosa.
The short order noted that according to Article 243, the authority to appoint an army chief lies with the president. However, there is no duration of appointment specified in the Article.
(The legality) of Gen Bajwa’s appointment will rest on the government’s legislation, said the court, observing that prior to this occasion, the appointments had been made as per the existing practices.
“The learned Attorney-General has taken pains to explain that the answers to these questions are based on practice being followed in the Pakistan Army but the said practice has not been codified under the law,” said the court order.
Before adjourning the hearing at 11:30am, the chief justice told Farogh Naseem that the government should submit a written statement to ensure that the parliament will legislate on the matter within six months. “If legislation is not done within six months, the appointment will become illegal,” he warned.
The chief justice observed that there was “ambiguity in the Army Act”.
“Parliament has to remove that ambiguity,” Justice Shah said and added: “There is no better forum than the parliament to fix the system.” Justice Miankhel said that it should also be clarified if, in future, the tenure would be extended or if there will be a reappointment. “The legal complications that we are pointing out will cause you difficulties but do not consider this embarrassing,” the chief justice said. Justice Khosa also said to make sure that the court’s mention is removed from the summary and that the summary should also make no mention of the duration of the extension. “The parts about salary and incentives should also be removed from the summary,” he said. “We want all of this to be part of the record.”
Addressing Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan, the top judge remarked: “Put your house in order.” At the outset of the hearing at 9:30am, the bench directed AG Khan to submit the extension notification issued for former army chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani as well as that of Gen Raheel Sharif’s retirement to the court. It is pertinent to mention that over the past two decades, Gen Raheel Sharif is the only army chief to have retired on time.
Govt given time to settle extension issue
ISLAMABAD: The Attorney General of Pakistan, Anwar Mansoor Khan, said Thursday that the verdict of the Supreme Court (SC) did not create issues for the government but it has given power to the federal authorities for legislation over the army chief’s extension. Anwar Mansoor Khan, while talking to private TV channels, said that the decision for removal legal flaws over the matter of extension to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa will be decided by getting a simple major in the parliament. He said that a bill will be presented in the parliament which the lawmakers have it to be passed. The attorney general commented that the SC verdict is very clear for legislation over the matter with a majority in the parliament. “The judicial verdict has removed all confusion over the issue. The top court has given six months to the federal government for lawmaking and it will pronounce its final decision in accordance with the law.”
Earlier in the day, Supreme Court (SC) granted a six-month extension to Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa in his service tenure. The SC while announcing its short written order gave six months to the government for the legislation on the matter from the Parliament. “The court will review the legislation on the matter after six months”, the SC’s judgment in the case reads.–Agemcoes
‘Tenure won’t end after six months’
ISLAMABAD: Former law minister Farogh Naseem said that media aired fake news regarding Prime Minister Imran Khan’s resentment and anger over him and other members of the legal team during a meeting held in Islamabadyesterday to consult COAS Bajwa’s extension.
Addressing a press conference in Islamabad along with Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Accountability Shehzad Akbar and Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan, Farogh Naseem said media also aired fake news regarding revocation of his license by Pakistan Bar Council (PBC).
“Media should avoid airing such news without confirmation as Indian media took full advantage of it and aired with different angles.
PM rules out friction of State institutions
By Ajmal Khan Yousafzai
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday emphasised the importance of harmony between state institutions and said that there will not be a confrontation between them in Pakistan since they treat one another with utmost respect. Addressing the Envoys Conference titled ‘Engage Africa in Islamabad’, the prime minister said that the previous governments appointed incompetent and ineligible people in the past whereas the incumbent government is dedicated to the implementation of a system where appointments are based on merit. “It is necessary to ensure that envoys and bureaucrats be appointed on merit,” he added. Lauding the services of Pakistan’s envoys, he said that they have played a crucial role in strengthening the country’s ties with the international community.
The prime minister said that Pakistan’s most important issue is of current account deficit and due to the government’s measures the threat has been thwarted as the flow of remittances has increased. He said that there were efforts to destabilise Pakistan but Pakistan’s economy is improving and the rupee has been stabilised. He also said that God has bestowed upon Pakistan great natural resources which can be utilised for uplifting the country. The premier further said that it is important for Pakistan to gain investors’ confidence to attract more investments in the country. “We need to focus on the African countries. Turkey has strengthened its relations with African countries and we have to the same to increase our trade,” he said, adding that President Dr Arif Alvi will soon visit African countries for this purpose.
Meanwhile, After the Supreme Court gave its verdict on the extension of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said it must be a great disappointment for those who expected the country to be destabilized by clash of institutions.
“Today must be a great disappointment to those who expected the country to be destabilized by a clash of institutions. That this did not happen must be of special disappointment to our external enemies & mafias within – Mafias who have stashed their loot abroad and seek to protect this loot by destabilizing the country,” the Prime Minister said in a tweet posted on his social media account. He recalled that 23 years ago Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) was the first party to advocate an independent judiciary and rule of law. “In 2007, PTI was in the forefront of the Movement for Independence of the Judiciary & I was jailed for it,” he mentioned. The Prime Minister further said that he also had the greatest respect for Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa and hailed him as one of the greatest jurists, ever produced by the country.
Earlier, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday directed the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) to bring necessary amendments in existing rules to ensure stability of prices of commodities and end monopoly and exploitation in market.
Chairing a high-level meeting to fix the sugarcane support price, the prime minister said promotion of agriculture sector, particularly provision of relief to small farmers, was the top priority of the government.