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Avoid Politics Over COAS Extension, Awan Tells Opposition

by Newsweek Pakistan

Courtesy PID

Special Assistant to P.M. on information says Parliament’s fundamental responsibility is to legislate

Enacting legislation over extension to the tenure of the Chief of Army Staff is a national issue and the opposition should avoid “playing politics” on this critical matter, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information and Broadcasting, Firdous Ashiq Awan said on Tuesday.

Talking to private broadcaster ARY News, Awan urged all opposition parties to work with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government to ensure speedy passage of legislation codifying the method by which an Army chief is granted an extension of tenure. There should be no pressure tactics on such important issues, she added.

The Supreme Court, last month, agreed to a conditional extension to the tenure of Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa for six months, directing the government to enact legislation within that time to fix the lacunae in existing laws. Per the court’s ruling, if the government fails to amend relevant laws within six months, the Chief of Army Staff’s extension will be considered illegal.

In a subsequent posting on Twitter, she hit out at Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari specifically, claiming he was linking the passage of legislation in Parliament to his personal political agenda. It is the fundamental responsibility of Parliament to legislate, she said, and any action that ran contrary to this was “unparliamentary, unconstitutional and undemocratic.”

The de facto information minister urged the PPP chairman to rise above political blackmailing, adding such actions were not in accordance with the PPP’s claims of supporting democratic institutions in Pakistan.

Awan said Prime Minister Imran Khan was fighting for Pakistan and his efforts were causing headaches for the opposition. Khan believes in rule of law, she said, and is working to further strengthen the civil-military relationship. She also said that P.M. Khan was striving to alleviate poverty, inflation and unemployment.

Responding to a question during her interview with ARY, she said that P.M. Imran Khan would certainly step down—once he had completed his five-year term. He will then come back into power after winning the next general elections on the basis of the PTI government’s performance, she added.

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