Asia - Pacific

Pakistan lawmakers pass bill on army chief's extension

Lower house of parliament also approves bills on air force and naval chiefs' extension

Aamir Latif   | 07.01.2020
Pakistan lawmakers pass bill on army chief's extension

KARACHI, Pakistan 

Pakistan’s lawmakers on Tuesday passed a much-debated legislation to validate a three-year extension in the term of the country’s army chief, state media reported.

Opposition parties -- including the embattled Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz and Pakistan People's Party -- in a rare show of unconditional cooperation supported the legislation in the National Assembly, the lower house of the parliament.

The assembly also passed two similar bills regarding the extension in tenures of the air force and naval chiefs, if required, state-run Pakistan Television reported.

Two mainstream religious parties -- Jamaat-e-Islami, and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam -- however, opposed the legislation, and walked out of the house.

Prime Minister Imran Khan in August last year extended Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa’s term for three years.

However, the country's top court in November suspended Khan's order and allowed the government to grant only a six-month extension to the army chief.

The court ruled that in the next six months the government should clarify the law related to the extension. Failure to do so would make the appointment illegal, it added.

The legislation will allow the prime minister to extend the tenures of the army, air force, and naval chiefs for three years.

The court ruling had sent shockwaves as the powerful army dominates the political landscape in the South Asian nuclear-armed nation.

Previously, the terms of army chiefs were extended without any objection by the courts.

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