With the term of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Ashfaq Parvaiz Kayani expected to end later this year, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday to stop the prime minister from appointing a new chief of the army.
The petition, filed by a resident of Rawalpindi Shahid Orakzai, seeks a stay on the crucial appointment pending a decision by the apex court on an earlier case challenging Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s stated policy of appointing the senior most general as the next COAS.
Criticising the premier’s earlier record of appointing army chiefs, the petitioner stated that two former army chiefs, Jehangir Karamat and Pervez Musharraf, had been removed by Nawaz– with the last dismissal plunging the country into eight years of dictatorial rule.
Citing Sharif and the election commission as respondents, the petitioner has urged the apex court not to allow the prime minister to appoint a new army chief strictly on the basis of seniority, a policy pronounced by Sharif earlier.
Earlier, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) had dismissed Orakzai’s petition saying that the petitioner had no locus standi to challenge the powers vested in the prime minister to appoint services chiefs and that only an army officer could approach the court against an appointment if he felt aggrieved.
However, Orakzai had appealed against the IHC verdict by approaching the apex court with the plea that an ordinary citizen could raise the fundamental issue of appointment of services chiefs.
According to the petition, the policy of military appointments based on seniority contravene military laws and the constitution arguing that no member of parliament, including the prime minister, can devise a policy which is against the constitution.
The stay application, if considered, will restrain the prime minister from exercising his power to appoint the next army, navy and airforce chiefs until a ruling on the main petition.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 6th, 2013.
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