In what is rapidly emerging as a comedy of errors, the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday huddled with Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa and drafted a third notification to overcome the legal issues raised by the Supreme Court of Pakistan over granting a three-year extension to the Army chief.
A ‘consultative’ meeting led by Khan reviewed proceedings of the Supreme Court over the extension issue, with the P.M.’s counsel Babar Awan, former law minister Farogh Naseem—who is representing Bajwa—and Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan briefing the participants on the court hearings. The continued insistence of pundits that Bajwa is not interested in an extension appeared to also be brought into question as his personal participation in the meeting was deemed quite significant and rare.
Reportedly, the meeting drafted a new notification to allay the court’s concerns and has circulated it to cabinet members for approval. It will be placed before the court today after all requisite procedures have been completed. The government reportedly replaced the word “reappointment,” a major sticking point for the apex court, with “extension” in the latest notification.
According to local media, the prime minister expressed his anger over the many errors that have been found in the previous two notifications about Gen. Bajwa’s extension and has decided to take stern action against those responsible. Observers suggest this will likely result in some shuffling of bureaucrats at the Prime Minister’s Office and the law ministry.
P.M. Khan has also called a meeting of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s parliamentary committee today (Thursday) to discuss the future course of action in case the court does not rule in favor of the Army chief.
The government has already issued two notifications about the Army chief’s extension. The first, issued by the P.M.’s Office on Aug. 19, was scrapped on Tuesday when the court took up a petition challenging its validity. The same day, the government issued a fresh notification, which was also criticized by the court.
Gen. Bajwa’s current tenure is set to end at midnight today. If the court proceedings do not conclude today, the control of the armed forces would fall to the newly inducted CJCSC, as the Army would effectively be without a chief.