The bills giving three years extension to Pakistan’s Army chief General Qamar Bajwa was “rushed” through parliament without debate, a group of dissident Pakistanis said. The bills to extend the retirement age from 60 to 64 years for the chiefs of army, navy and air force, and the chairman of the joint chief of staff committee sailed through the Senate or the upper house despite protests from minor parties, Geo News said.
Under the banner of the South Asians Against Terrorism and For Human Rights (SAATH) Forum, the group on Wednesday voiced concern at the manner in which the Pakistan government and main opposition parties “rushed through parliament” amendments to the Army Act.
The bills were passed “without debate as to the desirability or necessity of such legislation, and without due consideration to the implications of such an action on the future of democracy in Pakistan”, the group that includes former journalists and envoys said in a statement. Senate chairman Sadiq Sanjrani adjourned the session as soon as the bills were passed. The Senate session lasted only 20 minutes and no other agenda other than the laying of a few reports were taken up, the Dawn said.
The bills were already approved by the Standing Committee on Defence.
“It is a fact of history that the desire to perpetuate personal power, army chiefs of Pakistan have time and again disrupted the democratic project in Pakistan. “While in the past the military has carried out coups, and its chiefs have extended their tenures themselves by force, and while one example also exists where the president of Pakistan extended the tenure of an army chief under duress, there is no example of parliament undertaking such an adventure,” it said.
SAATH condemned “the unprecedented surrender of the political class and the sacred House that represents the will of the people” and attributed it to “political expediency and personal short- term gains” of Pakistan’s political leaders. “Such actions should have no place in a genuinely democratic dispensation,” it said.