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Pakistan’s National Assembly passes three Bills to extend General Bajwa’s tenure

In this March 23, 2019 photo, Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa (centre) watches a parade with Prime Minister Imran Khan (left) in Islamabad, Pakistan.

In this March 23, 2019 photo, Pakistan's Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa (centre) watches a parade with Prime Minister Imran Khan (left) in Islamabad, Pakistan.   | Photo Credit: AP

He was to retire on November 29 last year, at the end of his original three-year term

Pakistan’s National Assembly, the lower house of Parliament, on Tuesday passed three crucial Bills to give a three year extension to Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Mr. Bajwa, a close confidant of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, was to retire on November 29 last year, at the end of his original three-year term, but Mr. Khan gave the 59-year-old Army Chief an extension of the same length, citing the regional security situation, through a notification on August 19.

However, the Supreme Court on November 28 suspended the government order, observing that there was no law to give an extension to the Army Chief’s tenure. But the apex court granted a six-month extension to Mr. Bajwa after being assured by the government that Parliament will pass a legislation on the extension/reappointment of an Army Chief within six months.

The government, after initial hesitation, secured the support of the main Opposition parties and introduced three Bills in the National Assembly to extend the retirement age from 60 to 64 years for the Chiefs of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force, and the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Committee.

The Bills were approved by the Standing Committee on Defence on Monday, paving the way for its approval by the Assembly.

Defence Minister Pervaiz Khattak moved the three Bills — The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Pakistan Navy (Amendment) Bill 2020 — for voting and all three were passed easily as parties such as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People Party supported them.

However, Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazal and Jamat-e-Islami boycotted the session to express their displeasure with the new laws.

After the approval by the National Assembly, the Bills will be presented in the Senate, the upper house, and are expected to be passed without any issues.

Once cleared by the two Houses, the Bills will be presented to the President for the final approval to be promulgated.

It will help the government re-appoint General Bajwa for the extended thee-year term. The powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has wielded considerable power in deciding matters concerning security and foreign policies.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 5:59:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/pakistans-national-assembly-passes-three-bills-to-extend-general-bajwas-tenure/article30502612.ece

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