Law Minister Farogh Naseem has stepped down from his post, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed confirmed Tuesday.
He was speaking at a press conference alongside PM’s aide Shehzad Akbar and Education Minister Shafqat Mehmood in Islamabad. Rasheed said the prime minister had accepted Naseem’s resignation.
Naseem will represent the government along with Attorney General Anwar Mansoor in the case pertaining to the extension in General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure, PM’s aide on Accountability said.
“Farogh Naseem will appear tomorrow [in the Supreme Court] as the counsel of General Bajwa,” he said. Naseem could not fight the case as a minister, the PM’s aide elaborated.
He said Naseem could again be inducted in the federal cabinet.
Rasheed denied reports of any differences with the former law minister. He was lauded for his services by the cabinet, the railways minister added.
The development came soon after a meeting of the federal cabinet. The meeting was summoned to discuss the petition filed by the Jurist Foundation against General Bajwa’s extension.
The cabinet said it was a unanimous decision to give General Bajwa the extension for another three years.
The participants of the meeting were of the view that Prime Minister Imran Khan, being the chief executive of the country, had the authority to extend the army chief’s tenure.
Notification extending army chief’s tenure suspended
Earlier in the day, the Supreme Court suspended the official notification extending the tenure of the army chief.
The apex court said the attorney general was asked under which law an army chief’s tenure could be extended or he could be re-appointed. But the country’s top lawyer failed to explain it, the court added.
The case will be heard Wednesday.
On August 19, the prime minister re-appointed the army chief. But when he was informed that he didn’t have the power to do so, as it was the prerogative of the president, then a summary was sent on the same day to the President House. President Arif Alvi then approved the re-appointment, according to the court.
After this, the government realized that the cabinet has to approve the extension. Then, on August 20, a day after the notification had been issued, a summary for the extension was sent to the cabinet: 11 out of 25 cabinet members approved the summary. The rest of the cabinet members did not respond. The court said that since the majority of the cabinet did not approve the summary, it could not be considered as approved. Even if it was considered approved by the cabinet, the summary was never sent back to the prime minister or the president.
The court said if the argument that the army chief’s tenure should be extended because of a threat to regional security was to be accepted, then everyone in the army would start seeking an extension in their tenures. It was not an individual’s responsibility, but the entire army’s as an institution to counter a regional threat.
Haider Waheed, SAMAA TV anchorperson and a lawyer, said the Supreme Court had pointed out that an official could be re-appointed only after retirement. He added the government tried to fill the gap by amending section 255 of the Army Regulations.
Shahid Lateef, a defence analyst, told SAMAA TV that it is not the first time that an army chief was being given an extension. General Zia and General Kiyani were also given extensions in the past, he added.
Lateef said it would not be an extension but a re-appointment, if the army chief is given an extension after his retirement.