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November 30, 2019

Law will be amended for all services chiefs: AGP

Top Story

November 30, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Attorney General for Pakistan Anwar Mansoor has said that the government will change the law for the inclusion of provision of extension for all services chiefs – COAS, Naval Chief, Air Chief and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.

Talking to The News here on Friday, the attorney general confirmed that although the apex court decision focuses on army chief’s extension, the government will change the law for similar provision of extension for all the services chiefs.

This newspaper had raised the issue on Friday and raised the question if the SC decision on army chief’s extension be also applicable on air chief and naval chief, who too like the former are commanding their respective forces and fall in the same category as per their responsibilities in regard to the defence of the country’s frontiers.

This is not yet clear if the government will go for a constitutional amendment or would prefer simple legislation to achieve the objective.

The Article 243 of the Constitution that was extensively discussed during the last few days of the SC’s hearing of army chief’s extension case, deals with all the three chiefs, army, naval and air force, equally.

In its short order, the Supreme Court has referred to the attorney general’s categorical assurance that the past practice of extensions(given to army chiefs either by themselves or by the governments being followed in General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s case) is to be codified under the law.

The attorney general undertook that the federal government shall initiate the process to carry out the necessary legislation in this regard and sought a period of six months for getting the needful done. The SC order said, “Considering that the COAS is responsible for the command, discipline, training, administration, organization and preparedness for war of the Army and is the Chief Executive in General Headquarters, we, while exercising judicial restraint, find it appropriate to leave the matter to the Parliament and the Federal Government to clearly specify the terms and conditions of service of the COAS through an Act of Parliament and to clarify the scope of Article 243 of the Constitution in this regard.”

Just like what the SC in its order stated about the functions and responsibilities of the Army Chief, the Chiefs of Air Force and Navy are responsible for the command, discipline, training, administration, organization and preparedness for war of their respective forces and are also the Chief Executive in their respective Headquarters.

The much discussed Article 243, interestingly, deals with Command of all the Armed Forces. The constitutional Article also envisages the same procedure of appointment for all the Services Chiefs.

The Article 243 reads as: “Command of Armed Forces. 1. The Federal Government shall have control and command of the Armed Forces. 2. Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing provision, the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces shall vest in the President. 3. The President shall subject to law, have power– a. to raise and maintain the Military, Naval and Air Forces of Pakistan; and the Reserves of such Forces; and b. to grant Commissions in such Forces. 4. The President shall, on advice of the Prime Minister, appoint- a. the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee; b. the Chief of the Army Staff; c. the Chief of the Naval Staff; and d. the Chief of the Air Staff, and shall also determine their salaries and allowances.”

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