RAWALPINDI: The army chief usually serves a three-year term. Since the position was established in 1972, only one general has had his term extended by a civilian government.
General Bajwa was appointed to lead the military in 2016, taking over from the popular General Raheel Sharif, who won the hearts of millions with his blistering fight against militants. The cabinet of Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the three-year extension for Mr Bajwa in August, citing a worsening security situation in the region over its rivalry with neighbouring India. The prime minister approved the extension without even sending it to the president. But in a surprise ruling on Tuesday, the Supreme Court suspended the extension, citing a series of irregularities and ordering the government and the army to produce legal provisions and detailed arguments on the reasoning behind the move.
As Gen Bajwa was set to retire on Thursday midnight, the hearing was the last opportunity for the government to satisfy the court on the legal grounds of the move. However, the Pakistan Supreme Court on Thursday, in a short order, ruled that Gen Bajwa will remain the COAS for another six months, during which parliament will legislate on extension of an army chief’s tenure. I urge the government not to make this type of mistake. This shows negligence on the part of the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 1st, 2019.