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Supreme Court of Pakistan suspends extension of COAS

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General Qamar Javed Bajwa
Photo: AFP

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has suspended the extension of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in what many analysts consider as ‘unprecedented’. Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved the three-year extension of Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

According to Express Tribune, the development came after the chief justice took up a withdrawal application of a petition challenging the army chief’s tenure extension. Justice Khosa rejected the application and took up the petition under Article 184 (3) of the Constitution under public interest.

The 3-member bench headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Asif Saeed Khosa suspended the extension of COAS until Wednesday.

According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office, the notification for the reappointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) for another 3-year tenure was issued on August 19, 2019. General Qamar was set to retire on November 29 on completion of his three-year term. However, after the extension, he would serve as army chief until November 2022.

Defending the move, Attorney General Anwar Mansoor Khan said the Army chief’s tenure had not been extended without securing President Arif Alvi’s approval. “The summary has been approved by the federal cabinet,” he added.

However, the court questioned why a majority of the cabinet had not approved the extension, as only 11 of 25 members voted in favor of it.

The court also questioned the reasoning behind the extension. “Dealing with regional security situation is the job of the Army as an institution, not just of an officer’s,” said the top judge during the proceedings. “If the regional security situation reasoning is accepted, then every Army officer would want a re-appointment.”

The court has issued notices to the defense ministry, the federal government and Gen. Bajwa for the next hearing, which will take place on Wednesday.

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