The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to unconditionally back the amendments made to the Army Act by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government in order to facilitate the extension service of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
According to sources, the decision was made after a meeting of PML-N parliamentary members received a message from the party leadership on Thursday advising the party to fully back the amendment bill when it is tabled in the parliament by the government, according to sources.
The PML-N leadership reportedly does not want the position of COAS to become controversial, and has thus decided to support the PTI government in a bid to amend the Army Act under the directions of a verdict of the Supreme Court in this regard.
The federal cabinet, in an emergency meeting on Wednesday, had accorded its approval to amendments in the Army Act under which the prime minister will be empowered to extend the tenure of all services chiefs.
The bill pertaining to the amendment will be tabled in the National Assembly tomorrow (Friday). The amendment has been prepared according to the guidelines enumerated in the Supreme Court’s verdict.
Back in November, the apex court had asked the government to legislate on an extension in the COAS’s services within six months, allowing General Bajwa to stay in office until then, after briefly suspending the notification of the extension in his tenure.
Prior to that, PM Imran in August had approved the extension in the COAS’s services through an executive order. However, former chief justice Asif Saeed Khosa had in late November taken up a petition ‘in public interest’, challenging the extension in service of the COAS.
While taking up the petition, the former chief justice had dismissed a plea by the petitioner, Riaz Rahi, to take back the plea he had filed earlier that year challenging the extension in service of the army chief. A three member bench of the top court had heard the case.