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Committee to Lead Efforts on COAS Extension Legislation

by Newsweek Pakistan

Courtesy ISPR

Three-member group of senior lawmakers expected to approach opposition, draft legislation within six months

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government on Monday formed a three-member committee to commence work on drafting new legislation codifying the modalities of extending an Army chief’s tenure of service.

The Supreme Court last week allowed the government to extend the tenure of Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa for six months on the condition that it would use that time to enact legislation to remove deficiencies in the law concerning the reappointment or extension of an Army chief’s tenure.

Comprising Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Defense Minister Pervez Khattak and Minister for Planning Asad Umar, the committee has been tasked to reach out to the opposition to secure its support for any legislation it drafts.

While the government has maintained that it only needs a simple majority to pass this legislation, it will still require support in the Senate, where it lacks this majority. In its verdict, the apex court specifically urged the government to “clearly specify the terms and conditions of service of the COAS through an Act of Parliament and to clarify the scope of Article 243 of the Constitution in this regard.”

While a majority of lawmakers have suggested they want to work with the opposition to ensure the smooth passage of this legislation, P.M. Khan’s initial reaction to the court’s ruling was to slam the “forces within” that sought a clash of institutions between the government and the armed forces. This has prompted backlash from opposition lawmakers who have long maintained the PTI government is failing at working with them to resolve the issues facing Pakistanis.

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