Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa on Tuesday suspended till tomorrow the government notification extending the tenure of Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa for another three years.
A three-member bench, comprising the Chief Justice along with Justice Mazhar Alam and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah, was hearing a petition filed by the Jurist Foundation. The petitioner had challenged the extension of the Army chief, who is set to retire on Nov. 29, urging the court to declare it null and void and illegal.
“Only the President of Pakistan can extend the tenure of the Army chief,” Justice Khosa said during the hearing, in reference to Gen. Bajwa’s extension being notified by the Prime Minister’s Office in August.
“General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure,” the statement issued by the P.M. Office had stated, adding that the decision was being taken in view of the prevailing regional security situation.
Defending the move, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan said the Army chief’s tenure had not been extended without securing President Arif Alvi’s approval. “The summary has been approved by the federal cabinet,” he added. However, the court questioned why a majority of the cabinet had not approved the extension, as only 11 of 25 members voted in favor of it.
The court also questioned the reasoning behind the extension. “Dealing with regional security situation is the job of the Army as an institution, not just of an officer’s,” said the top judge during the proceedings. “If the regional security situation reasoning is accepted, then every Army officer would want a re-appointment.”
The court has issued notices to the defense ministry, the federal government and Gen. Bajwa for the next hearing, which will take place tomorrow (Wednesday).