Supreme Court’s hearing of alleged a suo motu case, that challenges the extension of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure is set for hearing today. It is one of the most controversial cases of Pakistan’s history and rightly so.
How it started
The petition was filed by a unpopular individual (Riaz Hanif Rahi) who tried to withdraw his petition during the hearing. This aroused suspicion from the judge of the apex court, who refused to let go of the issue and ordered the petition to be converted into a suo moto case.
Under the Article 184 (3) of the Constitution of Pakistan, the case was taken under the Public’s interest. Counsel Riaz Hanif Rahi’s petition had requested the Supreme Court to declare the government’s notification as null, void, and illegal.
This obvious pattern has emerged during the recent years, the unpopular individual filing a petition against a controversial political or constitutional move involving a popular and influential person. Like expected, a huge debate regarding the issue has spread nationwide rich with wild conspiracies of judicial activism and the supposed military personnel who run Pakistan.
Not Riaz’s First Rodeo
Riaz Rahi is by no means new to filing petitions in court, against high profile individuals with a political or military background.
The list of petitions doesn’t stop there, he is known to be involved in multiple petitions and cases, many of which have resulted in fines and jail time for Mr. Riaz Rahi. However, the motive of these legal battles and petitions remains in the mist. There have been no elucidations made by Mr. Riaz Rahi regarding his petition filing spree.
Law Minister’s Resignation
Another development that doesn’t cease to amaze is Farogh Naseem’s resignation on November 26 from position of law minister, to pursue the case as a lawyer. Mr. Farogh Naseem is representing the Chief of Army Staff, Mr. Bajwa in the case. Mr. Naseem has resigned voluntarily as a federal minister cannot appear before the SC as a lawyer.
However, another cabinet member Mr. Rashid has disputed the claim that the resignation was voluntary and insists that he was asked by the prime minister to resign. He further added that prime minister had reprimanded the law minister for the incorrect advice on the matter.
The Railway Minister of Pakistan, Sheikh Rashid corroborated the news at a joint conference with Education Minister, Shafqat Mahmood and Special Assistant to the Prime Minister, Imran Shahzad Akbar also present after a meeting with the cabinet.
The Extension and Prime Minister’s Role
Army Chief, General Qamar Bajwa was to retire on November 29, 2019, but a statement issued by the office of the Prime Minister of Pakistan on November 21 extended the COAS’s tenure to November 2022. Later the Prime Minister’s role in the reappointment also came under fire by the judiciary. Justice Khosa asked a few burning questions during the proceeding that have reinstated the conspiracies in the minds of local theorists.
“If the notification was issued on August 19, then what did the prime minister approve on August 21. After the cabinet gave its approval, did the president approve it again?” the Justice inquired. The Attorney General (AG), Anwar Mansoor Khan answered saying that, indeed approval was required and the prime minister had signed the notification after gaining approval from the cabinet.
However the Chief Justice stated that “Only the President of Pakistan can extend the tenure of the army chief”, leaving the court room in abject shock. As everyone is astounded by the development of the case, all rise to observe what the three-member SC bench, headed by Chief Justice Asif Saeed Khosa decided in the issue on Today (November 27).
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