ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s top court on Thursday reserved its decision in Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure extension case and ordered the government to submit a new summary of the chief’s appointment by midday.
The Supreme Court was hearing a case against a three-year extension of the army chief’s service, whose term is due to expire at midnight. The court pointed out numerous procedural and legal lacunae in the extension process.
A ruling is expected on Thursday afternoon.
Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khan asked barrister Farogh Naseem, who was representing the army chief in the case, to submit a written statement that the parliament will legislate on the matter within six months.
“If legislation is not done within six months, the appointment will become illegal,” the chief justice said.
On Tuesday, the court suspended the government’s notification of Aug. 19, extending the general’s term for another three years, citing procedural flaws, and instructed the Ministry of Defense, the federal government, and the army chief to file their respective responses on Wednesday.
Shortly after the court hearing, Prime Minister Khan convened a special session of the Cabinet to discuss the issue. A new summary for the extension of Bajwa’s tenure was approved and duly endorsed by Khan and President Arif Alvi.
The chief justice told the court that the premier had requested the reappointment of Bajwa, but the president had issued a notification for an extension of the general’s tenure. “They (the Law Ministry) never bothered to check what was written and what they were sending (to the president for approval),” he said.
On the handling of the matter, he added: “They (the government) should not do something like this with a high-ranking officer.”
However, the attorney-general tried to play down the gaffe, referring to it as a “clerical error.” He said that the process was “nothing new” adding that extensions had been granted to different army chiefs in the past and were “notified in the same manner.”
The attorney general told the hearing that “until command is handed over to another general, the army chief cannot be considered retired.”