Govt ‘undecided’ about means to grant extension to COAS

Updated December 26, 2019

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The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, on the other hand, has questioned the seriousness of the government with regard to the legislation on the COAS extension, saying it [government] has yet to contact the party on the issue. — Reuters/File
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, on the other hand, has questioned the seriousness of the government with regard to the legislation on the COAS extension, saying it [government] has yet to contact the party on the issue. — Reuters/File

LAHORE: The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) has yet to make up its mind whether to file a review in the apex court or legislate on the extension of service of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), on the other hand, has questioned the seriousness of the government with regard to the legislation on the COAS extension, saying it [government] has yet to contact the party on the issue. The party, however, says it will take “right decision in the national interest”.

Read more: 'The Bajwa doctrine': Highlights from Gen Bajwa's 2016-19 tenure as COAS

“The question of contacting the opposition will arise when the government decides to go for legislation on the extension of the army chief. At the moment, it [government] is pondering whether to file a review [in the Supreme Court] or do legislation in the parliament in this respect,” Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn on Wednesday.

He said the federal law ministry was looking into this matter and the government would soon arrive at a decision in this regard.

The Supreme Court, a month ago, had allowed extension/reappointment of Gen Bajwa for another six months and asked the government to determine the tenure, terms and conditions of the service of the army chief through legislation within the period.

PML-N says it has not been contacted so far

“The PTI government has not yet contacted us regarding legislation on the extension of the army chief,” PML-N senior leader and former speaker of the National Assembly, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, said while talking to reporters.

“With regard to the extension of the army chief, PML-N will make the right decision in the greater national interest,” PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb said and warned the ruling PTI to stop giving the impression that the national institutions belonged to it.

“The Imran Khan government should not act as if it is the only deciding power in the matter of the extension of the army chief,” Ms Aurangzeb said and added, “Musharraf’s cabinet and rented spokespersons” should mind their language and refrain from making national institutions controversial by issuing naïve statements.

The PML-N is of the view that the PTI is trying to prove that Gen Bajwa and the army are with it (PTI). “The army and the army chief do not belong to any one political party, but the nation. So Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party should refrain from giving such impression,” she said.

Aide to former premier Nawaz Sharif Senator Pervaiz Rashid said: “PML-N will present its point of view once the government brings a bill regarding the extension of the army chief to the National Assembly.”

A PML-N insider said once the government shared the draft regarding the extension of the army chief with the party, it would be presented to ailing Nawaz Sharif in London for a final decision.

Published in Dawn, December 26th, 2019