Islamabad: Pakistan's Parliament on Wednesday passed three crucial bills to give a three-year extension of tenure to the country’s army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa as well as vesting the prime minister to extend the service of all three service chiefs and the chairman of the joint chief of staff committee.
The process of giving an extension to Gen Bajwa, a close confidante of the prime minister, was rushed through despite the Supreme Court pointing out irregularities in the process.
The bills to extend the retirement age from 60 to 64 years for the chiefs of Pakistan’s army, navy and air force, and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee sailed through the Senate despite protests from minor parties, Geo News reported.
As soon as the bills were passed, Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani adjourned the session which lasted only 20 minutes, the Dawn newspaper said.
Subsequently, Sanjrani forwarded the bills to the Senate standing committee for approval, which held an emergency meeting within minutes and passed them unanimously, it said.
The bills had already been approved by the National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence. They were passed by the National Assembly with the support of both the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and the Pakistan People Party.
All eyes are now on President Arif Alvi, whose signature on the bills will formalise them into law, which will grant the prime minister the power to extend the tenure of any service chief.
Gen Bajwa, 59, was to retire on Nov. 29 last year at the end of a three-year term but the prime minister, through a notification, to give him an extension of the same length, citing the regional security situation.
However, the Supreme Court on November 28 suspended the government order, citing irregularities in the process. It then allowed a six-month extension to Gen Bajwa after being assured by the government that Parliament would pass a legislation on the matter within six months.
The powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 72 plus years of existence, wields considerable power on matters concerning security and foreign policies.
Gen Bajwa is the second army chief to get a full-term extension in recent times. Earlier, Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani was given a full term in 2010.