General Bajwa extension: What will happen after November 29?
General Qamar Javed Bajwa is set to retire on November 29, after completing his three year service as head of Pakistan’s armed forces.
In August, the prime minister and president extended the general’s tenure for another three years, citing regional security threats, which necessitated that he stay on.
But on Tuesday, the highest court in Pakistan, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, suspended the government’s notification prolonging the army chief’s tenure. During today’s hearing, the Supreme Court remarked that it will be carefully examining the legal aspects of such re-appointments.
If the hearing into the case was to extend beyond November 29, would the office of the chief of army staff become vacant?
Majid Nizami, a senior analysts, weighs in:
No. Under no circumstances will the office be left unoccupied. Primarily, because it has never happened before in the history of Pakistan, and it unlikely to happen now. In my opinion, neither the army nor the government and neither, I think, the judiciary would want this to happen.
Right now the senior most general in Pakistan is General Nadeem Raza, who has been recently named the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff Committee (CJCSC). If the court hearings were to be extended beyond Nov. 29, Gen. Nadeem could be given the acting charge of the COAS office, until the court’s verdict.
There are precedents of this in the past. The additional charge of CJCS were given to then army chiefs General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, General Jehangir Karamat and General Pervez Musharraf. Musharraf, in fact, was a full army chief and CJCS. This would be the only constitutional way out, if such a crisis were to emerge.
Air Vice Marshall (retd) Shahzad Chaudhry:
To pre-judge a decision on an on-going court case is as difficult, as it is assumptive.
Hence, a refrain is better advised. But assuming that the earlier notification remains cancelled, will the Court also cancel a second notification, if and when issued? If so, that will begin a real war and a fratricide which we could do without.
The COAS could be on leave with an acting COAS taking decisions – a standard practice. Chiefs of Services can remain absent for prolonged periods – visits, leave, sickness etc – and an acting arrangement takes care of the routine, while bigger matters can await the Chief’s return.
So, yes. It is not a big issue.