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Extension fiasco – Contain Not-Contest opposition

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Chief Justice of Pakistan deserves appreciation of the nation for defeating enemies of Pakistan from within and across the borders. They were planning celebrations but now must be mourning in different camps as their all hopes have been shattered with the historic decision on the constitutional petition filed against the extension of Gen Bajwa, the Chief of Army Staff of Pakistan army.Unfortunately in Pakistan’s political history no proper legislation could take place irrespective who was the ruler, majority of the amendments carried out in the constitution revolve around rulers personal interests and benefits by compromising over national interest. The parliament has been legislating on those issues that could give benefits to members of the parliament.
This case has proved to be blessing in disguise for the government to put the house in order. For the interest of the readers let us see what the para 3 of the short order of the judgement on Gen Bajwa’s extension says,” We have examined Article 243(4)(b) of the Constitution, Pakistan Army Act 1952, Pakistan Army Act Rules, 1954 and Army Regulations (Rules) 1998 and in spite of the assistance rendered by the learned Attorney General, we could not find any provision relating to the tenure of COAS or of a General, and whether the COAS can be reappointed or his term can be extended or his retirement can be limited or suspended under the Constitution or the law. The learned Attorney General has taken pains to explain the answers to these questions are based on practice being followed in the Pakistan Army but the said practice has not been codified under the law”
This is certainly not a happy situation and slur on our politicians who failed to legislate on such important issue in 72 years. If the extension had not been challenged this practice would have continued. Even otherwise in a country where law of rulers has prevailed what good could be expected? Chief Justice and the other two honourable judges have been magnanimous in asking the parliamentarians to work on COAS extension makes this abundantly clear that SC believe in the supremacy of the Parliament, otherwise who could stop them passing judgement as hinted out during the course of hearing the petition. It was very unfortunate that some elements cast aspersions on the CJ and the bench as pointed out by CJP that judges were termed as CIA agents when they closely looked at law. Prime Minister has rightly pointed out that SC decision has dejected who were hoping and expecting clash of institutions, the fact remains that 3 days from Nov 26 to 28 were nerve raking. The crisis had nothing to do with Gen Bajwa, it was incompetence of government’s lawyer’s team who failed to produce a simple notification granting extension to COAS. The practice of cut and paste has resulted in collapse of institutions but no one is pushed. Prime Minister is not supposed to know each and every rule of business it is the job of officers working under him to ensure that all such matters are handled carefully in accordance with the rules. It was very amusing to hear from learned Attorney General when he said General never retires, in fact no armed forces officers retire because after retirement they all write rank with word retired that means rank never dies it remains as it is even after death.
It is surprising that in spite of complete failure and inefficiency of legal team which failed to produce a simple notification on the extension of Gen Bajwa Prime Minister has praised his legal team is not understandable at all. Secondly resignation of law minister and again his reappointment after three days is also a big joke. This simply reflects still our thinking and mind set has not changed.SC has given six months is enough to prepare amendments. Naturally it will be applicable to all the three services chiefs including Chairman JCSC. Question arises will it be simple legislation or an amendment? In all probabilities it will require amendment that may pose difficulties unless opposition joins hands with the government and that will not be easy job. Secondly if the legislation revolves around Gen Bajwa’s extension it will again be challenged. The only option with the government is to extend hand of reconciliation to opposition and Prime Minister may have to change his attitude towards opposition. Cases are to be decided by courts and NAB this point should be understood properly.We cannot allow anymore instability as it is no more in country’s interest. The ball is in the government’s court it will be seen how they handle it. The best course of action shall be to call all parties conference by the Prime Minister and he should show flexibility to accommodate opposition’s views on the subject to develop consensuses otherwise it will create difficulties. Pakistan army has rendered great sacrifices in men and material and Gen Bajwa’s role in eliminating terrorists from soil of Pakistan deserves appreciation from the entire nation more so it has been acknowledged by international community. Just compare it with US operation in Afghanistan they fought for 16 years, lost over 2300 soldiers, besides wounded over 20000 and suffered loss of roughly over 2 Trillion Dollars. Ultimately US is for table talk with Taliban, when super power can talk to their enemies they fought for years why can’t our Prime Minister talk to opposition.