The Pakistan Supreme Court has approved the service extension of Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa with some conditions. The verdict, pronounced by Pakistan’s top court on Thursday, is seen as a partial relief for the Imran Khan government that had sought an extension of his service by three years.
A three-member bench headed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan heard the case, the other judges being Justice Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Mansoor Ali Shah.
The government of Pakistan had issued a notification for extension of Bajwa’s term to 3 years, but the court has approved it for only 6 months.
In its decision, the Bench has said to extend the tenure of Bajwa by 6 months and directed the government to bring necessary legislation in this regard soon. Earlier, the Supreme Court had stayed the notification related to the extension of Bajwa’s term. After this ban, Prime Minister Imran Khan called an emergency cabinet meeting on Tuesday.
According to the old rule, Bajwa was retiring on 29 November. But after today’s order of the court, now he can continue in this post for the next six months.
Earlier, when the Supreme Court stayed the notification related to the extension of service of Bajwa, then PM Imran Khan reprimanded the law minister of his Cabinet. The law minister then had to resign from his post.
However, on 19 August, Imran Khan government gave Bajwa a three-year extension. In its decision, the government of Pakistan had decided to extend Bajwa’s term citing ‘environment of regional security’. However, the government withdrew its order after the court intervened and issued another notification in this regard, which was also revoked on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, a nationwide debate is raging in Pakistan over Gen Bajwa’s religious identity. According to Pakistani law, only a Muslim can be the Army chief. A petitioner has alleged that Gen Bajwa belongs to the Qadiani community, which is a group within the sect of Ahmadiyyas, who are not considered Muslim by the Pakistani Islamic orthodoxy.