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December 16, 2019

Extension in tenure of COAS: Legislation not possible in current NA session


December 16, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The government will have to take decision about legislation on the extension in tenure of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa early this week.

Well placed parliamentary sources told The News here Sunday that legislation for the purpose is not possible during the current session of the National Assembly that will be culminated on Friday (December 20).

The government will have to take decision for legislation or filing appeal to get quashed various aspects of the judgment once the detailed judgment is announced.

It is likely that it would be announced today (Monday). In case the legislation or constitutional amendment is required, the ruling party will have to take its coalition partners into confidence in first stance and subsequently it will have to take the opposition parties on board for the purpose. The sources reminded that the PPP has given extension in service to one COAS but in the backdrop of the prevailing situation, it would be hard for it to support any proposal for granting extension to the Army Chief in principal. The major opposition party Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) has opposed the idea of giving extension to the Services Chief as it has no such record. It declined to grant extension to the former army chief despite huge pressure, sources reminded.

It is likely that some “constitutional experts, stalwarts and strategic wizards” will be pressed in action for required legislation once the detailed verdict is made public today. The whole country was in the grip of rumour mongering about the verdict on Sunday, but none had anything to offer with fair amount of certainty and authority. Most of the federal ministers and advisers of the prime minister were clueless about the verdict. The session of the National Assembly will be adjourned sine die on Friday and next session would be summoned in the first week of January next year. The sources hinted that the act of Parliament or Constitutional amendment in both the cases, the matter will come up in the house in next session. The government is in catch-22 situation and incidentally Prime Minister Imran Khan will not be in the country on the day when the detailed verdict will be announced by the three-member bench of the apex court. In another and unrelated development the government has failed in withdrawing the eleven presidential ordinances which were passed through by Deputy Speaker National Assembly on the opening day of the current session by bulldozing all the relevant rules. The opposition put up move of no trust against the deputy speaker on account of his conduct in passage of the ordinances. The deputy speaker was unseated as member of the National Assembly by the Election Tribunal and he is retaining office as the result of injunction ordained by the SC. The opposition withdrew the motion of no confidence on the assurance of government that it would withdraw the ordinances. The current and 17th session of the National Assembly is coming to an end later this week but the government as per its commitment, hasn’t withdrawn the ordinances and no resolution has yet been submitted in National Assembly secretariat by the government for the purpose. The National Assembly hasn’t transmitted the ordinances for consideration to the upper house of the Parliament; Senate yet, the sources pointed out.

In normal course, the legislation was supposed to be transmitted by now to the other house. The sources reminded that the reluctance of the government and delay in withdrawing the ordinances could trigger within house fierce fight between the government and opposition anytime in the current sitting. The ongoing session of the National Assembly that will be resuming today after three-day recess, has yet to find leader of the house; Prime Minister Imran Khan in its ranks for once even and likewise leader of opposition Shahbaz Sharif hasn’t ‘graced’ the house with his presence so far. He hasn’t appeared in the house for last two sessions while the Prime Minister is staying away from it for five consecutive sittings of the National Assembly.

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