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Ex-COAS Bajwa’s tenure extension decision ‘not a mistake’: Nayyar Bokhari

Islamabad: PPP Secretary General Nayyar Bokhari has said his party is of the opinion that the PTI government’s decision to extend former army chief retired General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure at the end of his initial three-year tenure in 2019 was “not a mistake”.

Unlike the PTI that expressed their regret on the matter, as former speaker Asad Qaiser had stated that extending Gen Bajwa’s tenure as the army chief was the “wrong decision” and which the party regretted, the PPP leader Bokhari shared that “we don’t think it was a mistake.” The PPP leader explained that the situation in the country at the time required the extension.

Later, former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan also said he committed a mistake by extending the former army chief’s tenure. Bokhari commented on the matter when asked about the PPP being a part of the legislation that paved the way for Bajwa’s extension.

He mentioned that the previously PPP had also given an extension to another army chief. The PPP leader added that in his personal opinion that extension of an army chief was the discretion of the country’s chief executive and not legislation.

The approval for extension in Bajwa’s term was initially given by the then-prime minister Imran Khan just three months before Bajwa was set to retire on November 29, 2019, “in view of the regional security environment”.

Meanwhile, analysts had linked the approval’s significance to the regional situation as tensions between Pakistan and India were high at the time in the wake of New Delhi’s decision to revoke occupied Kashmir’s special autonomy, and talks between the US and Afghan Taliban on ending the war in Afghanistan had entered a critical stage.

The matter, however, took an unanticipated turn when the Supreme Court (SC) suspended the notification for Bajwa’s extension on November 26, 2019, raising objections to how the matter was handled.

After two days of lengthy court proceedings and back-to-back cabinet meetings — all in an attempt by the government to satisfy the top court on the legal grounds for approving the extension — the SC announced on November 28, 2019 that Gen Bajwa would retain the top military position for another six months. The court also asked the government to determine the tenure, terms and conditions of service of the army chief through legislation within six months, till the end of Gen Bajwa’s extension.

Subsequently, three bills pertaining to the tenure 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 were passed by the National Assembly and Senate in January 2020, paving way for a three-year extension in Gen Bajwa’s term.

He eventually hung up his boots on November 29 this year, marking an end to his extended six-year tenure.

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