Govt to woo Opp for Gen Bajwa’s sake - Pakistan Today

Govt to woo Opp for Gen Bajwa’s sake

–PM forms committee to convince Opp lawmakers to vote for imminent amendment

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has started its consultation process to legislate for an extension in the service of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa while keeping its options open for amending the constitution or through an Act of Parliament.

Prime Minister Imran Khan has tasked Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi to formulate a strategy while Law Minister Dr Farogh Nasim, counsels Dr Babar Awan, Naeem Bokhari and some other party leaders would be working on the proposed amendment.

A source told Pakistan Today that though Dr Farogh Nasim, Sheikh Rasheed and majority of the cabinet members believed that an amendment through an act of law with a simple majority was enough to serve the purpose, but Shah Mahmood Qureshi advised Prime Minister Imran to take along all opposition parties in this regard.

“The government wants to send a message of parliament’s unity over the amendment into law. Some ministers, including Qureshi, believe that the government should get a constitutional amendment passed to avoid any embarrassing situation,” the source said.

The source said that the prime minister was yet to make a decision whether to go for amending the law or amending the constitution. The PM is consulting with his legal advisers and soon he would take a final decision, the source added.

“The cabinet members would also be consulting National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaisar and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani to get the bill sail through both houses of parliament,” the source added.

Meanwhile, State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Mohammad Khan has moved a summary to Prime Minister Imran for summoning the National Assembly session for December 4 so that a window of communication could be opened with the opposition parties for evolving consensus over the bill.

On the other hand, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has also started a consultation process to benefit from the situation and use the process as a bargaining chip.

According to sources in the former ruling party, PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif plans to put forth some conditions for any support for the government bill for the extension in services of the army chief. Shehbaz Sharif has directed the party leadership to send him a copy of the detailed judgement of the Supreme Court’s (SC) order as soon it is released.

“Once the (SC) verdict is out, Shehbaz Sharif would convene a party meeting through video-link from London and would devise a detailed strategy on how to benefit from the situation,” the source added.

Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leadership is yet to devise a strategy though a couple of informal meetings have been held here at the Bilawal House to contemplate over the situation.

Mian Abrar

The writer heads Pakistan Today's Islamabad Bureau. He has a special focus on counter-terrorism and inter-state relations in Asia, Asia Pacific and South East Asia regions. He can be reached at [email protected]

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