Legislation on COAS tenure in process


By Makhdoom Shehryar Babar
ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government on Monday constituted a three-member committee comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Minister for Planning Asad Omar to lead the effort for drafting new legislation on the extension of an army chief’s tenure.
The move comes after the Supreme Court (SC) gave the government six months to legislate and iron out the lacunae in the reappointment or extension of tenure of an army chief – paving the way for the incumbent, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to stay on until a new law determined his terms of service.
The committee will also debate on the new legislation with opposition parties in the parliament. The government is hopeful that the requisite law will be drafted within six months.
During the landmark hearings in the apex court, a three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mian Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, issued the verdict in the high-stake case after the state’s chief law officer submitted an undertaking to the court that parliament would bring in a new law on the matter within six months.
The ruling averted a crisis as the army chief was set to retire on the night between Thursday and Friday. On Tuesday, the court had suspended a notification issued by the prime minister in August for Gen Qamar’s reappointment till 2022 citing procedural loopholes.
“Considering that the COAS is responsible for the command, discipline, training, administration, organisation and preparedness for war of the army and is the chief executive in the General Headquarters, 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 a short order issued by the court.
“Therefore, 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,” it added.
A day after the apex court gave the government six months to draft legislation regarding the reappointment or extension in an army chief’s tenure, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) showed signs of initiating dialogue with the opposition.
The Imran Khan-led government has asked the parliament to review all existing laws related to the post of army chief and is determined to garner support from opposition parties.
The premier may also sit down with opposition party leaders including Shahbaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman among others.
An all-party conference may also be convened by the federal government to discuss the matter.