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August 21, 2019

President to issue formal notification of Gen Bajwa’s fresh appointment


August 21, 2019

ISLAMABAD: A formal notification appointing General Qamar Javed Bajwa Chief of Army Staff will be issued under the signatures of President Dr Arif Alvi as required under the Constitution.

“What Prime Minister Imran Khan issued on Monday can be described as a press release, announcing Gen Bajwa’s re-appointment and not a formal notification because he can’t do so under the Constitution,” prominent legal expert Barrister Omar Sajjad explained to The News.

He referred to Article 243 of the Constitution, which says the President shall, on advice of the Prime Minister, appoint the Chief of the Naval Staff, the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee; the Chief of the Army Staff; and the Chief of the Air Staff, and shall also determine their salaries and allowances. The Federal Government shall have control and command of the Armed Forces. Without prejudice to the generality of this provision, the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces shall vest in the President.

Omar Sajjad stated that as per this provision, the prime minister advises the president in a formal written manner to make such appointments. He said an official summary would have to be moved by the defence ministry to the premier, who will give his advice on it to the President to appoint Gen Bajwa the army chief for another three-year tenure.

The expert said that on receiving this advice from the Prime Minister, the President will issue the official notification anytime but the appointment will take effect from November 29 this year when the top General’s present three-year term will expire.

“Prime Minister Pakistan, PMO/232/M/SPM/19, Islamabad 19 August, 2019 General Qamar Javed Bajwa is appointed Chief of Army Staff for another term of three years from the date of completion of current tenure. The decision has been taken in view of the regional security environment. [Signed] Prime Minister (Imran Khan)” was what the premier issued on Monday.

A senior official, who has been dealing with such correspondence for many years, told The News that the form and format of the letter was not what it should have been. It was not marked or addressed to anyone, he pointed out.

The letter, the official said, should have read “the Prime Minister is pleased to advise the President to appoint General Qamar Javed Bajwa the Chief of the Army Staff.”

He said the letter should have been marked to the Defence Secretary with the direction to prepare a formal summary for the Prime Minister’s advice to the President for appointment of Gen Bajwa the army chief for the second term.

The Eighth Amendment inserted in the Constitution by the 1985 parliament on the direction of Gen Ziaul Haq had given the discretionary power to the President of Pakistan to appoint the armed forces chiefs.

However, this discretion was later unanimously dispensed with by the parliament, and vested in the Prime Minister, making the President just a figurehead. The premier’s advice to the President is binding and can’t be questioned by the President or any other authority.

When this presidential authority had existed in the Constitution, the President and the Prime Minister kept fighting over such top level appointments as everyone wanted his choice man to be holding the command of the Pakistan Army. There has not been any controversy after this discretion was assigned to the premier.

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