PM can only talk about army chief's appointment, not extension: Abbasi

Published January 10, 2022
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi talks to media in Karachi on Monday. — DawnNewsTV
Former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi talks to media in Karachi on Monday. — DawnNewsTV

PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi on Monday said Prime Minister Imran Khan was creating a "unnecessary fuss" over army chief's tenure, saying that as per the Constitution a premier was only mandated to talk about the "appointment" of the military head and not of their "extension".

Prime Minister Imran Khan had on Jan 6 said he had so far not thought about extension in the tenure of Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

“The current year has just started and November is far away. Then why is there a worry about extension in the tenure of the army chief,” the prime minister had said in an interview with Dunya TV Islamabad Bureau Chief Khawar Ghumman.

PML-N Secretary-General Ahsan Iqbal had on Sunday also hit out at the prime minister for speaking about the extension of the chief of army staff tenure prematurely.

Read more: Decision on extension for COAS can wait, says PM Imran

Abbasi, a former prime minister himself, during a media talk in Karachi today, questioned the use of the term "extension" by PM Imran regarding the army chief's tenure.

He said the Constitution was clear on the army chief's appointment, saying: "The Constitution that we've read [says] the army chief gets appointed for three years. There has never been a debate on extension of the army chief's tenure."

When reminded by a reporter that the army chief's extension has now been legislated on, Abbasi said: "That is a part of law but when the prime minister talks, he talks about the appointment and not of extension."

It is pertinent to mention here that current Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa's tenure was extended for three years by the prime minister in Aug 2019, just three months before he was set to retire.

The extension was questioned in the Supreme Court, which after much debate had allowed the COAS to retain his position for six months and given the government six months to legislate on the matter. The legislation was carried out in Jan 2020.

'Govt incompetence to blame for Murree deaths'

The PML-N leader also fired a broadside at the government over deaths of tourists in Murree due to blizzard and said it was "sheer negligence and incompetence" on the government's part as "it is the first time that tourists died after getting stranded in snowfall".

He said the tragedy took place just because the administration did not clear roads in time, while police reached the spot after about 28 hours.

He said the authorities were supposed to take action against hotel owners in Murree who were overcharging visitors during the emergency situation.

Abbasi claimed that people's rage would be visible on the day of election, saying "the PTI will suffer the same fate that it met in the local government elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa."

To a question about interior minister's request to the opposition for postponement of Pakistan Democratic Movement's March 23 rally, the former premier said the traditional parade on March 23 will conclude by 11 in the morning, adding "the parade of public will begin after it."

Earlier, he targeted the National Accountability Bureau, saying judges were also confused whether to proceed as there were no grounds in graft cases filed by the NAB against him and other PML-N leaders.

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