22 November 2022
By Ahmed Saeed
Currently, there is a state of excitement in the country regarding the appointment of the new Army Chief and the Chairman Joints Chiefs of Staff Committee.
According to government sources, the Prime Minister will approve two names in the next twenty-four to twenty-five hours and send the advice to the Presidency for formal approval of President Arif Alvi.
According to senior jurist and former law minister Khalid Ranjha, the appointment of the army chief is an administrative matter and the president can refrain from signing it indefinitely. However, according to some other constitutional experts, the President is bound to follow this advice under Articles 243 and Article 48 of the Constitution, but he can withhold the Prime Minister’s advice for a maximum of twenty-five days.
According to former President of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Latif Afridi, the President is well aware of the consequences of this delay, so he will refrain from doing so. Senior jurist Salman Akram Raja opines that if the President stops the summary, the matter may go to the Supreme Court, but it will be a unpleasant situation.
What happens if the President delays approval?
In case of delay in the approval of the President’s advice, the question arises as to who will take over the command of the army after the tenure of the current Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa is over.
Answering this question, former Defense Secretary Lieutenant General Khalid Naeem Lodhi said that in the absence of the Army Chief in any situation, the command of the army is automatically transferred to the most senior Corps Commander.
It should be noted that the most senior corps commander in the Pakistani army at present is General Sahir Shamshad Mirza, who is the Commander of Ten Corps in Rawalpindi, while the most senior is Lt. General Syed Asim Munir, who is currently the Quartermaster General at GHQ.
Can this matter go to the Supreme Court?
In response to the question of whether the appointment of the Army Chief can be challenged in the Supreme Court, Latif Afridi said that the court can look into this matter only if a senior general appears in the court as a petitioner.
According to General Lodhi, the court can look into the matter only if a senior general involved in the army chief’s race puts the matter before the court in the form of a petition and takes the stand that the appointment will violate the Army Act. However, according to him, this has never happened in the past and there is no possibility of it happening in the future.
But it should be remembered that in 2019, when the then Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s term of service was extended, then a three-member bench of the Supreme Court decided on the petition of a civilian petitioner and gave the government six months for this extension.
The process of appointing the Army Chief has started, but the ongoing rumors in this regard have also reached their peak as all eyes are on the President of Pakistan. There will be times when the President has to follow the Prime Minister’s advice. Meanwhile, some political pundits are looking to the PTI long march as a ploy to increase pressure for the Army Chief’s appointment.