- Army law amendment
Prime Minister Imran Khan has called a meeting of allied parties to devise a strategy to provide a three-year extension to the Army Chief through an amendment in the Army Act. Each one of the PTI allies has a list of promises unfulfilled by the government. Whenever the government is in a tight corner the allies try to use the occasion for getting their demands accepted. They would vote as required once they have got their pound of flesh.
But that hardly resolves the problem, as with the opposition having a majority in the Senate no bill can be passed without its support. As PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari put it the other day, a government that had failed to pass any legislation in the past one and a half year, would not able to pass this one either. The PML-N too cannot be taken for granted. Party leader Ahsan Iqbal had said that the government was trying to offend the opposition to prevent the legislation from being passed. The JUI-F believes that a “fake Parliament” could not legislate on the extension of the Army Chief’s term.
The PTI government has given an undertaking to the Supreme Court that it will get the issue of COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa’s extension settled through Parliament within six months. The opposition is not a party to the undertaking. Under the circumstances it is the responsibility of the government to persuade the opposition to support the move for an extension. As none other than Mr Khan matters in the PTI, the opposition is likely to insist the he personally interact with it to sort out the details regarding the extension.
For this Mr Khan will have to drop the holier-than-thou posture. Federal Minister Fawad Chaudhry’s suggestion to set up a joint parliamentary body supervised by the PM, COAS and CJP is unworkable. The PML-N had assured that it would get the proposal for extension passed by Parliament on its own. The CJP is not a party to the proposal. It would be unjust to the COAS to require him to negotiate with the opposition for his own extension. Mr Khan will be letting down General Bajwa if he does not do the needful to seek the opposition’s cooperation.