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Pak standing committee on defence approves Bills concerning services chiefs’ tenure

Islamabad

The Pakistan government on Friday initiated the process in Parliament to extend and fix the retirement age of chiefs of the armed forces and pave way for the extension of incumbent Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Minister for Defence Pervez Khattak tabled in the National Assembly, Lower House of Parliament, three bills — the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Act 2020, the Pakistan Navy (Amendment Act) 2020 and the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment Act) 2020.

The National Assembly and Senate’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence approved the three bills.

The bills, pertaining to the tenure of the three services chiefs, were approved unanimously by the committee and will be presented for approval in the National Assembly on Saturday, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Azam Swati was quoted as saying in the Dawn newspaper.

The new laws propose to fix 64 as the maximum age limit 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.

It says that the Prime Minister would have powers to grant extension to any of them in future after completion of their normal tenure at the age of 60 years.

Earlier, the ruling PTI government and the Opposition parties reached a rare agreement over the proposed amendments to the Army Act to fix the tenure and extension of service of Army chief General Bajwa.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had extended 59-year-old Gen Bajwa’s tenure through a notification on August 19. However, the Supreme Court in November suspended the government order, citing irregularities in the manner the army chief, a close confidant of Khan, was granted an extension.

On Wednesday, at an emergency meeting of the Cabinet, presided over by Prime Minister Khan, approved amendments to the Army Act, nearly four weeks after it assured the Supreme Court of passing a legislation on the extension and reappointment of an Army chief within six months.

A rare consensus was reached on Thursday, a day before tabling the bill in Parliament to give a three-year extension to Chief of the Army Staff General Bajwa, the Dawn newspaper reported.