General Bajwa's extension case: PTI lobbies with opposition parties for amendments in Army Act

Islamabad [Pakistan], Jan 2 (ANI): The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led government on Thursday reached out to members of opposition parties to garner support for making amendments to the Army Act and the Constitution in order to give a three-year extension to the Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

The move comes a day after the proposed amendments were rushed through the Cabinet, which unanimously granted its approval for the changes, both to the Constitution and the Army Act, reported Dawn.

Pakistan's Supreme Court in November last year had directed the government to remove ambiguity in rules on the issue of extension in the army chief's tenure.

A delegation of PTI lawmakers including Defence Minister Pervez Khattak, Ali Muhammad Khan and Qasim Suri, met PPP leaders, including the party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari earlier in today evening.

According to sources, the PPP assured its support for the amendments but raised concern over the fact that details of the amendments had not been shared with the opposition lawmakers.

Bilawal during the meeting pushed for the government to follow the parliamentary rules and regulations regarding amendments in the Army Act, party sources added.

Earlier in the day, a delegation of PTI lawmakers including Defence Minister Khattak, Leader of the House for the Senate Shibli Faraz and Senator Azam Swati, met PML-N leaders, where the latter assured their support for the proposed amendments. The PML-N delegation comprised Khawaja Asif, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, and Rana Tanvir, among others.

PML-N Senator Mushahidullah Khan told reporters that the party leadership in London has given the nod to support the amendments through consensus.

The government is likely to introduce the amendment bill in parliament on Friday (tomorrow) after building a consensus with the opposition on the matter.

The government needs the support of opposition parties to make the amendments as any amendment to the Constitution needs to be approved by at least two-thirds of the membership of each House - the National Assembly and Senate.

According to a copy of the draft amendment bill, the government plans on making amendments to Sections 8, 176 and 176A of the Pakistan Army Act, 1952. A chapter dealing with the appointment of the army chief and the chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee will also be added to the Act. (ANI)