General Bajwa’s extension by PM Imran Khan has stirred up controversy in the country.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court decided to extend Pakistan Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure by six months, local media reported on Thursday.
In the historic short order today, the top court has asked the government to complete legislation in the Pakistan Army Act – within six months.
The case has made headlines recently as an unprecedented challenge to the nuclear-armed nation’s most powerful institution.
General Bajwa has served three years in his role, arguably the highest authority in the country, and in August Prime Minister Imran Khan asked him to extend his tenure and serve another three.
The request is not unprecedented. The Pakistani military has long played an outsized role in national life, ruling the country for roughly half its 72-year history, and more than one of its army chiefs has gone well beyond their mandated term.
According to Dawn.com, the SC announced the verdict in the afternoon, asking the government to submit the following:
– An undertaking that the parliament will pass legislation in this regard within six months
– An amended notification
The amendments will include the elimination of:
– The mention of the Supreme Court
– Duration of the army chief’s tenure
– The description of army chief’s salary and incentives
As Gen Bajwa was set to retire at midnight, today’s hearing was the last opportunity for the government to satisfy the court on the legal grounds of the move.
The court had been holding hearings this week and said Thursday that it would release its decision in the afternoon, ahead of the midnight deadline for Bajwa’s term to expire.
The episode is especially damaging to Khan’s administration, which is seen as close to Bajwa.
“This is a landmark case: unprecedented questions are being raised, threatening to upend the accepted status quo, and holding a mirror to society’s psyche,” Pakistan’s leading English daily Dawn wrote in an editorial.
Bajwa was appointed to lead the military in 2016, taking over from the massively popular General Raheel Sharif, who won the hearts of millions with his blistering fight against militants.
Bajwa is the latest in a long line of Pakistani military generals who have seen their mandates extended.
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