Days after the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act-2020 was tabled by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak in the parliament’s lower house, lawmakers passed the Bill with a majority vote on Tuesday. The Bill will now require the Senate’s approval to enable it to become a law.
Pakistani Prime Minister Khan initially granted a three-year extension to Army chief General Bajwa in August 2019, as the country was facing a crisis with India over Jammu and Kashmir.
The opposition parties – Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), which is co-headed by former president Asif Ali Zardari, and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) of ex-premier Nawaz Sharif – supported the move.
The legislation says that terms and conditions of the chief of the army staff shall be determined by the country’s President on the advice of the prime minister.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other law, or any order or judgement of any Court, the appointment, reappointment or extension of the Chief of the Army Staff, or the exercise of discretion by the appointing authority in this regard, shall not be called into question before any court on any ground whatsoever", the legislation reads.
It has also mandated the maximum age limit of the three services chiefs to 64. Currently, any service chief can remain at the helm until 60.
On 26 December, the Pakistan government filed a review petition in the Supreme Court, seeking the formation of a larger bench to consider the judgement related to the extension of Army Chief General Bajwa's tenure on 28 November.
The Supreme Court had termed the extension of the tenure of General Bajwa as “meaningless” in the absence of a relevant law.
After the court ruling, the government submitted an undertaking, saying the parliament would pass legislation on the extension of the term within six months.