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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Parliament is expected to complete the legislative process for the appointment, reappointment and tenure of three services chiefs, including the chief of army staff, by Wednesday. The National Assembly and Senate have to separately vet and approve the bills, a top government official said on Saturday.
“The opposition parties want to properly vet and examine the bills before putting them to the vote (in both houses of Parliament separately). Therefore, the whole process is expected to be completed by Wednesday,” Mohammed Mushtaq, additional secretary (Legislation) at the National Assembly Secretariat, told Arab News on Saturday.
The government had called the National Assembly and Senate sessions on Saturday in a bid to get the three amendment bills — the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2020, the Pakistan Navy (Amendment) Act 2020, and the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Act 2020 — passed with the support of at least two major opposition parties, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) and the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP).
However, the government later postponed the parliamentary sessions until Monday.
The National Assembly and Senate’s joint standing committee on defense passed the three bills and laid down the procedure for the appointment and reappointment of services chiefs.
But later the opposition parties said that the bills should be separately discussed in the Senate standing committee since senators did not have the right to vote on them in the joint committee.
“We will demand the chairman of the Senate to refer the bills to the standing committee when it is tabled in the House,” Sen. Mushahidullah Khan of the PML-N told Arab News.
“The government should follow the parliamentary procedure to pass the bills instead of trying to bulldoze the process.”
All three bills are mandatory to be passed by both houses of Parliament separately with a majority before acquiring undisputed legal status.
Federal Minister for Defense Pervez Khattak on Friday tabled the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2020 in the National Assembly, paving the way for a three-year extension to the army chief’s tenure.
He also separately presented the Pakistan Navy (Amendment) Act and the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Act in the lower house, which the speaker, as per parliamentary procedure, referred to the defense committee for further deliberations.
The government should follow the parliamentary procedure to pass the bills instead of trying to bulldoze the process.
Sen. Mushahidullah Khan, PML-N politician
The federal Cabinet on Wednesday approved amendments to the army, navy and air force acts in a hurriedly convened meeting to plug the legal lacunae in the appointment and reappointment of services chiefs as pointed out by the Supreme Court in its verdict in November last year.
Prime Minister Imran Khan extended Gen. Bajwa’s tenure through a notification in August 2019, but the Supreme Court suspended it on Nov. 26, citing procedural irregularities and loopholes in the relevant laws.
The court later announced that Gen. Bajwa would remain as army chief for another six months during which time Parliament would legislate on the army chief’s extension/reappointment.
“The retirement age and service limits prescribed for a General, under the rules and regulations made under this act, shall not be applicable to the Chief of the Army Staff, during his tenure of appointment, reappointment, or extension, subject to a maximum age of sixty-four (64) years,” the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act, 2020, reads.
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