Nation special report

ISLAMABAD:  The PTI Government received biggest shock and jerk on Thursday when the Supreme Court (SC) granted a conditional permission to extend COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure by six months from the same day (November 28) instead of three years as notified by Prime Minister Imran Khan on 19th August .

A three-member bench of the apex court, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan Khosa and comprising Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, heard a petition challenging the extension of COAS General Bajwa.

Imran Khan wanted this extension at any cost and has termed Gen Bajwa the best Army chief in country’s history. Hence, the government was bent upon to satisfy the top court to avail its consent but in vain.

Imran Khan was very disappointed with the verdict and minutes after the announcement of decision reacted that “a great disappointment to those who expected the country to be destabilised by a clash of institutions”.

Taking to Twitter, he said the fact that a clash of institutions was averted “must be of special disappointment to our external enemies and mafias within – Mafias who have stashed their loot abroad and seek to protect this loot by destabilising the country”.

In another tweet, Prime Minister Imran said 23 years ago, the PTI was the first political party to advocate for an independent judiciary and the rule of law. In addition, he said the PTI was at the forefront of the Movement for Independence of the Judiciary in 2007 and he was “jailed for it”.

“Also, for the record, I have the greatest respect for CJ [Chief Justice Asif Saeed] Khosa, one of the greatest Jurists produced by Pakistan,” the prime minister wrote.

The prime minister expressed similar sentiments while addressing a conference of Pakistani envoys to African countries later in the day, saying attempts were made to “destabilise the country” in recent days first through the JUI-F-led dharna and later through the case regarding the army chief’s tenure in the apex court.

The apex bench directed the government to draft the new notification in the light of following instructions:

  • Not mention the Supreme Court
  • Exclude the mention of a three-year tenure of extension
  • Not include details regarding the army chief’s salaries and incentives

Furthermore, the apex court has sought an undertaking from the government that it would legislate on the matter within six months.

At the outset of hearing on Thursday, the chief justice asked Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan to present the notifications regarding the extension in the tenure of former army chief (retd) general  Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and retirement of (retd) general Raheel Sharif.

“We were told yesterday that generals never retire,” remarked CJP Khosa.

The attorney general informed the court that General Qamar Bajwa has been reappointed under Article 243, to which the CJP remarked that “you have to convince us this is legal.”

After the arguments from the attorney general and Farogh Naseem, the bench stated that the court will announce the short order in the afternoon while the detailed verdict would be issued in the evening.

In the meantime, the court granted General Bajwa the permission to continue working, conditionally. It further instructed the government to prepare a fresh notification, which does not list the tenure of the extension and to submit it in the court at 1pm.

It also asked for a written statement from the government that “legislation pertaining to the extension will be prepared within six months,” the CJP added. “You are giving the incumbent chief a three-year extension, so what if a more capable military officer is on service? Would you grant him a thirty-year extension?” questioned the CJP.

The CJP observed that propaganda was launched against the judges as we took up the matter. “It was said that the three judges are CIA agents and are working on Indian agenda.”

On this, the AGP said that the matter was discussed in India. Justice Khosa observed that this is not good that a constitutional office is being made controversial.