Pakistan's Senate passes bills to extend Gen Bajwa's tenure

Islamabad, Jan 8 (PTI) Pakistan's upper house of Parliament on Wednesday passed three crucial bills to give extension to Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa for another three years.

The bills to extend the retirement age from 60 to 64 years for the chiefs of army, navy and air force, and the chairman of the joint chief of staff committee sailed through the Senate or the upper house despite protests from minor parties, Geo News said.

As soon as the bills were passed, Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani adjourned the session.

The bills were already approved by the Standing Committee on Defence.

On Tuesday, the three bills - The Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Pakistan Navy (Amendment) Bill 2020 - were passed easily by the National Assembly or the lower house of Parliament as the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan People Party (PPP) supported them.

All eyes are now on President Arif Alvi, whose signatures 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, a close confidant of Imran Khan, was to retire on November 29 last year at the end of his three-year original term but the Prime Minister gave the 59-year-old Army chief another extension of the same length, citing the regional security situation through a notification on August 19.

However, the Supreme Court on November 28 suspended the government order, observing that there is no law to give extension to the Army chief's tenure. But the apex court granted a six-month extension to Gen Bajwa after being assured by the government that Parliament will pass a legislation on the extension/reappointment of an Army chief within six months.

The powerful military, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 72 plus years of existence, has wielded considerable power in deciding matters concerning security and foreign policies.

Gen Bajwa was the second army chief to get full term extension in recent times. Earlier, Gen Ashfaq Pervaiz Kayani was given a full term in 2010.

Prime Minister Khan and Gen Bajwa have been working closely. Bajwa accompanied Khan on his maiden US visit during which he met US President Donald Trump at the White House.

Khan had also nominated Bajwa as a member of the National Development Council, in an unprecedented move.

When Bajwa was appointed army chief by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, he superseded three other generals. PTI ZH ZH