Govt., Opposition Close Rank on Army Chief’s Extension, Bill to Have Bipartisan Support in Parliament

DESPARDES — The Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf-led government has reached out to the opposition for bipartisan support on 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.

According to sources, the treasury and the opposition have closed rank and the Amendment bill is likely to see a consensus-built unanimous Aye in the Parliament,

The move comes after the Supreme Court in November directed the government to remove ambiguity in rules on the issue of extension in the army chief’s tenure.

The federal cabinet has already unanimously granted approval for the changes, both to the Constitution and the Army Act — the amendment seals the loopholes for extending the tenure of the army chief and will now go to the parliament for approval.

The bill is likely to be tabled in the parliament on Friday.

PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan, while talking to media, said the party leadership in London has given the nod to support the amendments through consensus.

A senior PML-N leader also told mediapersons in Lahore that the party has decided to do “unconditional cooperation” over amendments in the Army Act and not make the institution of the army and the army chief’s office “controversial”.

Citing sources, Dawn reported on Thursday that the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) has also assured its support for the amendments, but raised concern over the fact that details of the amendments had not been shared with the opposition lawmakers.

Despite expressing its reservations over attempts to “sidestep” the legislative process, PPP has consented to the changes, Express Tribune reported.

On Thursday, an in-camera meeting of a parliamentary committee comprising lawmakers of the ruling and the opposition parties tried to reach a consensus on the matter. The two sides will meet again on Friday morning before the amendment bill is likely to be tabled for vote.

On being asked to comment on the matter, Sen. Khan said, “wait for tomorrow”.