Pakistan court OKs new 6-month term for army chief

November 28, 2019 GMT

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday extended the army chief’s term for six months, ending days of legal tension with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government.

That’s still less than the three-year extension Khan originally wanted to keep the army chief at his post. But it gave Khan’s government time to amend the laws to allow Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa another term, as per the court’s request.

Khan’s legal team appears to have made procedural mistakes on its extension application for Bajwa in August. Under present laws, Khan did not have the authority keep Bajwa for another term.

Bajwa would have been forced to retire at midnight on Thursday if the court had overturned the extension.

“Today must be a great disappointment to those who expected the country to be destabilised by a clash of institutions,” Khan tweeted after the decision. “That this did not happen must be of special disappointment to our external enemies & mafias within.”

The matter was originally brought to the knowledge of the Supreme Court by a local lawyer, Hanif Rahi, who withdrew his complaint Tuesday without explanation. He had said the government extended Bajwa’s term in violation of laws.

Khan had said in August that he needed Bajwa to stay on because of ongoing security concerns. Those include heightened tensions with India over the disputed Kashmir region, which both countries partially control but claim in its entirety.

Pakistan’s army has been a major force in politics since independence from Britain in 1947, governing the country directly for several extended periods.