The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government on Friday tabled the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in the National Assembly after being assured unequivocal support on the matter by the two main opposition parties.
The development came after a meeting of the PTI’s parliamentary committee, headed by Prime Minister Imran Khan, was held at the Parliament House to discuss the legislation.
The bills were, under legislative procedures, initially referred to the Defence Committee, which according to Law Minister Farogh Naseem, accorded them unanimous approval. The amendments sought through the bill seek to make future extensions of army, navy and air force chiefs ‘airtight’ as the bills state categorically that the decision to do so “shall not be called into question before any court on any ground whatsoever”.
Ealier, the National Assembly and Senate’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence approved the three bills pertaining to amendments to the Army Act, the Navy Act and the Air Force Act.
The bills, pertaining to the tenure of the three services chiefs, were approved unanimously by the committee and will be presented for approval in the National Assembly today, said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Senator Azam Swati. Earlier, Federal Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak tabled the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2020 in the National Assembly, paving the way for a three-year extension for Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. Khattak also presented the Pakistan Navy (Amendment Act) and the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment Act), separately. PML-N had on Thursday assured the government of its “unconditional” support to the bill, but PPP had cautioned the government against displaying haste in the matter to ensure proper and sagacious legislation through the parliament.
On Friday, news of a letter penned by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif detailing the party’s stance on the matter made the rounds. Speaking to reporters, PML-N’s Khawaja Asif had denied receiving a letter from his party leadership on the matter. “You might have received a letter, I did not receive any [letter],” he said responding to a reporter’s question.
The laws will fix 64 years as the maximum age limit of the three services chiefs — chief of army staff, chief of air staff and chief of naval staff — and the chairman of the joint chief of staff committee, with the prime minister having the prerogative to give an extension to any of them in future after completion of their normal tenure at the age of 60 years and the president having the power to give the final nod. During the brief NA session, PML-N’s Khawaja Asif asked that the production orders of those leaders who are under detention be produced. The session was adjourned until 11am today, Saturday.