–PTI govt lauds itself for being told to amend Army Act
ISLAMABAD: Former law minister Farogh Naseem on Thursday said the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was granted six months to legislate on the issue of the extension of the army chief and that General Qamar Javed Bajwa will remain the chief of army staff even after the passage of six months.
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, Naseem, who represented Gen Bajwa in the court, hailed the Supreme Court ruling.
Farogh Naseem said that Gen Bajwa’s extended tenure will begin on Thursday midnight.
In its ruling on the extension of Gen Bajwa’s tenure, the Supreme Court said that the attorney general “categorically assured the court …government shall initiate the process to carry out the necessary legislation… in six months for getting the needful done”.
“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,” the court ruling stated, as it allowed extension of six months in the tenure of the current army chief.
Addressing a press conference following the SC ruling, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan said, “This is not a matter of adversity, as the government considered such legislation [amendement in Army Act] a matter of pride for the government.
“Today’s decision is a historic decision. The way the constitution has been interpreted will provide guidance for us in the future,” said the attorney general.
Speaking of the unprecedented nature of the case, he said: “It is important to state here that the Army Act is pre-partition and after 19-20 changes, it is being amended. It was never before challenged in court.”
He said that was the reason why “no one ever realised the mistakes involved in the procedures that were being followed”.
The attorney general said that prior to Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s appointment, many chiefs of staff were appointed and many got extensions using the same method that was employed this time around. “The summaries were the same and the rules were followed in the same manner. There were no additions or any changes made.”
He said that it had been a custom to do things the existing way and so when the first notification was issued it was “a routine notification”.
The AG said that the court, in its observations, had consistently referred to two things: a general (currently) does not have a superannuation age; no law talks about the chief of army staff – how he will be appointed or what his term of service will be.
Speaking about the SC ruling, he said that the court had noted that Article 243 states that the appointment of an army chief by the president “is subject to law” but since there exists no law for the appointment, “they have asked us to make a law mentioning the tenure and the methodology of his appointment”.
The attorney general also advised the media not to “talk against Pakistan”.
Speaking on the occasion, PM’s aide Akbar said that the decision given by the top court should be accepted as it was. “We should understand the verdict given by the Supreme Court in the context that it was given,” he said. “We should not say anything that affects the morale of the armed forces.”
He said that some external forces had presented the entire case by deliberately ignoring its context.