Supreme Court of Pakistan on Tuesday suspended the notification confirming the extension of Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa for another three years after his term expires on November 29.
According to reports, the Supreme Court has converted a petition seeking to dismiss a case against the extension of the army chief into a suo-moto, the first by Chief Justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa.
Petitioner Riaz Hanif had earlier approached the court seeking the dismissal of the petition against the COAS. “Converting petition to suo-moto notice under 184(3) clause of the constitution,” the chief justice noted in his remarks on the case.
“The hand-written petition has no oath-undertaking, while the petitioner and the advocate are also not present in court. In these circumstances, we cannot hear the petition,” the top judge reportedly said.
The chief justice also noted that the prime minister did not hold the authority to extend the tenure of the army chief, as that power rested only with the president.
In response to this, the attorney general told the court that the notification of the extension had been issued after approval by President Arif Alvi.
However, apparently not satisfied with the answer, the top judge wondered how PM Imran signed the notification on August 21 while the President had already approved it on August 19.
“It is not clear why the prime minister approved the notification again after the president had signed it,” the chief justice said. The attorney general replied that the PM signed the notification after cabinet approval.
“The final approval has to be given by the president. If the cabinet approved it after the president, the notification might not be in line with the law,” Justice Khosa noted.
To this, the attorney general replied that the government would ask the president to approve the notification again. He added that only eleven of twenty-five federal cabinet members had approved of the extension.
“It cannot be said that a majority of the cabinet members approved the notification,” the chief justice remarked, adding that such decisions are approved by a majority in democratic countries.
The top judge also wondered why the notification referred to the extension as a re-appointment.
On August 19, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved the extension of General Qamar Javed Bajwa as the Chief of Army Staff.
“General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure,” said a notification from the office of Prime Minister Imran Khan back in August.
“The decision has been taken in view of the regional security environment,” the notification had added.