ISLAMABAD - Attorney General of Pakistan Anwar Mansoor Khan has said that through Thursday’s decision the Supreme Court has directed the government to clearly specify the terms and conditions of service of the Army Chief through an Act of Parliament.

He was addressing a joint news conference flanked with Prime Minister’s Special Assistants Shehzad Akbar and Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, along with former law minister Farogh Naseem in Islamabad yesterday evening.

The Attorney General said Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly believes in rule of law and the Constitution. He said it would be an honour for the government to make legislation over this matter to settle the issue once and for all.

Later, talking to a TV channel, Anwar Mansoor Khan said opposition would be answerable to the court if it created any hurdle on the legislation of COAS’ extension.

He said the present government would implement the court orders in letter and spirit and legislate in the Parliament on the COAS’ extension in due course of time.

About the extension of three-year duration, he said the Parliament would decide the length of the period. He, however, said the government did not want any kind of conflict among the institutions.

During the press conference, Farogh Naseem said extension in the tenure of Chief of Army Staff would start on November 29, 2019 and it would have to be legalised by the Parliament through legislation within six months. The period of tenure extension would be decided after legislation in that regard by the Parliament with simple majority.

Farogh Naseem urged the media to play a constructive role instead of spreading fake news vis-a-vis General Bajwa’s extension and not let the enemy do propaganda on the issue. The Supreme Court had delicately handled the case and guided the government to legalise the reappointment of COAS, he added.

Farogh Naseem said General Bajwa was an honest and upright person, who stood with democracy and there should be no politicking on such positions. The media had created an uncertainty by highlighting the Supreme Court’s proceedings in a negative way instead of presenting the facts before the public.

He said the apex court exercised judicial restraint and kept the national interest in view while passing the judgment, but some sections of the media unfortunately played a negative role.

He said the summary for the extension of General Bajwa’s tenure was like the one which was forwarded to the then president for extending the tenure of General (retd) Ashfaq Parvez Kayani as the COAS. The incumbent government only followed the old practice, he added.

“We thank the Supreme Court judges, who have guided the government and pointed out procedural lacuna,” he added.

 

AGP Anwar Mansoor Khan termed the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the COAS reappointment historical which would guide the government in future. He said the Army Act enacted before the subcontinent’s partition was being followed in Pakistan for the last 70 years. Even after the passage of 1973 Constitution, the same procedure was adopted, which was followed for the extension in General Bajwa’s tenure, he added.

He said Article 243 of the Constitution pertained to the appointment of COAS while Article 255 elaborated the rank or position of an army officer.

He said soon after taking over the government, Prime Minister Imran Khan had expressed the resolve for rule of law in the country, which was part of his party’s manifesto. The incumbent government wanted to do better legislation and that was why it follows the apex court’s directions in letter and spirit, he added.

He lamented that the COAS extension issue was discussed in television talk shows in a wrong way, which only benefited the country’s enemies.

Special Assistant Shahzad Akbar said the government had taken the decision to extend the tenure of Gen Bajwa keeping in view the security situation at the borders and the media should fully support the Pakistan Army.

To a question, he said the Parliament would do legislation with simple majority. The apex court’s decision had clarified that under Article 243, the prime minister had full authority to make appointments on key posts.

Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said this case should not be linked with any particular individual as it is related to some procedural gaps and the Supreme Court has provided an opportunity to fill them.

Firdous said the verdict of Supreme Court on the petition challenging the extension of COAS was the victory of democracy and it would help strengthening institutions.

She said the judgment has provided the opportunity to rectify the lacunas in the existing laws and removed them with necessary legislation.

She said the petition challenging the extension of COAS must not be linked with any particular personality. The dream of country’s detractors sitting abroad has been smashed with the judgment, she said.

She said another three years tenure of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) would start from Thursday midnight.

To a question, she said the reinduction of former Minister for Law and Justice Dr Farough Naseem in the federal cabinet was the prerogative of Prime Minister.