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ISLAMABAD: The coalition members have reportedly agreed to amend the Pakistan Army Act (PAA) 1952 to enable the country’s chief executive officer to grant an extension through insertion of the word “retention” to specified senior army official(s) but shot down the proposed amendment that would empower him to seek resignation of the top military leadership.

The chief of army staff under existing rules has the power to grant an extension in service of Lieutenants General for one year and seek a resignation from any official and tender his own resignation - though a resignation maybe at the cost of losing perks/privileges and pension.

As per the proposed amendment in Section 176 titled ‘Power to make rules’, sub section (2-a), in clause (a) of the PAA, the government has proposed ‘retention’ be inserted after ‘reappointment’ in the current text of the law, while the word ‘resignation’ has been proposed to be inserted after the word ‘release’.

The existing clause reads: “The [Federal Government] may make rules for the purpose of carrying into effect the provisions of this act… Without prejudice to the generality of the power conferred by subsection (1), such rules may provide for the appointment, reappointment or extension, retirement, release, discharge, removal or dismissal from the service of persons’ subject to this Act, including the Chief of the Army Staff and/or the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee.”

“First amendment in 1974 was passed over night so the timing of the passage of this proposed amendment is not an issue,” so stated a well informed source.

Minister expresses ignorance about any changes in Army Act

“While Nawaz Sharif in particular would like to have the power to dismiss an army chief yet an amendment to this end is unlikely to be accepted by the institution …You can’t send an army chief home without a compelling reason, and due process,” a defence source said on condition of strict anonymity adding that the insertion of the word ‘retention’ may not be objectionable to the institution.

There is intense speculation in the capital that the move towards amendment in the Army Act is sourced to the institution as it may enable the government to retain the services of an official while giving him the option to resign at any time.

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar has taken the lead on seeking a consensus on these amendments as well as to discuss the possible candidate for the next army chief with Asif Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman on Thursday and met with President Alvi on Friday.

Appointment of COAS to be ‘as per law’: govt

“Dar is very close to Nawaz Sharif, and so he comes with his strong backing. However, Nawaz Sharif is no doubt engaged in discussions on the matter with his brother Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and is reportedly already in discussion with Asif Ali Zardari and Maulana Fazlur Rehman,” an insider told Business Recorder.

Sources within the PDM said that deliberations on the proposed amendments to the Pakistan Army Act are underway and the draft is yet to be finalized.

The front-runners to replace General Qamar Javed Bajwa are Lt Gen Asim Munir, the army’s quartermaster general and a former ISI- chief, Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad, commander of the Rawalpindi Corps, Azhar Abbas, the army’s chief of general staff, Nauman Mahmood, chief of the National Defence University, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed Corps Commander Bahawalpur, and Lt Gen Muhammad Amir, Corps Commander XXX in Gujranwala.

Traditionally, the General Headquarters (GHQ) sends a list of the senior-most lieutenant-generals ranging from 3 to 5 along with their portfolios to the Ministry of Defence, which then forwards them to the prime minister who selects the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chief of Army Staff.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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Abbas Khan Nov 19, 2022 01:34pm
Sharifs will never learn the lesson!!!
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