The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government on Thursday reached out to members of opposition parties to garner support for making amendments to the Army Act and the Constitution in order to give a three-year extension to Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.
A delegation of PTI lawmakers, including Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Ali Muhammad Khan and Qasim Suri, met PPP leaders, including the party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, on Thursday evening.
The PPP leaders at the meeting that took place at Zardari House included Raja Pervez Ashraf, Nayyar Bukhari, Sherry Rehman, Raza Rabbani, Shazia Marri and Naveed Qamar.
According to PPP sources, Bilawal during the meeting pushed for the government to follow the parliamentary rules and regulations regarding amendments in the Army Act.
While the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has decided to unconditionally back the amendments made to the Army Act by the federal government, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has urged others not to “side step the legislative process” in order to facilitate the extension service of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Taking to Twitter, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari urged parties not to ‘sidestep’ the democratic legislative process.
“The more important the legislation the more important it is for us to follow the democratic process. PPP will take this up with other political parties as well,”the Twitter said.
Earlier in the day, a delegation of PTI lawmakers, including Defence Minister Khattak, Leader of the House for the Senate Shibli Faraz and Senator Azam Swati, met PML-N leaders, where the latter assured their support for the proposed amendments. The PML-N delegation comprised Khawaja Asif, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Rana Tanvir, among others. PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan, while talking to media, said that the party leadership in London has given the nod to support the amendments through consensus.
The govt is likely to introduce the amendment bill in parliament today (Friday) after building a consensus with the opposition on the matter. The govt needs the support of opposition parties to make the amendments as any amendment to the Constitution needs to be approved by at least two-thirds of the membership of each House – the NA and Senate.
According to a copy of the draft amendment bill, the government plans on making amendments to Sections 8, 176 and 176A of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952. A chapter dealing with the appointment of the army chief and the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee will also be added to the Act.
Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, while addressing a press conference on Thursday, said matters of national interest should not be politicised. Awan said she was hopeful that the parliament would play its legal and constitutional role to “once and for all” settle an issue currently being discussed in the parliament. While the premier’s aide did not specify the issue being discussed, she appeared to be referring to legislation on the extension of COAS Bajwa’s tenure.