–Bills will now become acts of parliament after formal approval by president
ISLAMABAD: The Senate on Wednesday approved the three bills regarding the tenure of the services chiefs — chief of army staff, chief of air staff and chief of naval staff and the chairman of the joint chief of staff committee, a day after these bills sailed through the National Assembly.
The bills — the Pakistan Army (Amendment) Bill 2020, the Pakistan Air Force (Amendment) Bill 2020 and the Pakistan Navy (Amendment) Bill 2020 — were accorded approval by the Senate’s Standing Committee on Defence on Tuesday.
The bills were moved for voting by Defence Minister Pervez Khattak. Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani then put up these bills for a voice vote, with a majority of members voting in favour of the bill. The session, which lasted for only 20 minutes, was adjourned immediately after the passage of the bills till Friday. The bills will now become acts of parliament after formal assent by President Dr Arif Alvi.
Sanjrani had referred the bills to the Senate Standing Committee on Defence on Tuesday –after their approval from the National Assembly– which held an emergency meeting within minutes after adjournment of the Senate session and passed them unanimously.
NA ACCORDS APPROVAL TO BILLS:
The National Assembly on Tuesday approved all the three bills with little opposition.
The only voice votes against the bills initially had come from the two independent MNAs from the tribal areas – Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir – who remained in the House for some time and later left the house after tearing up the copies of the assembly agenda to join the members of the JUI-F and the JI, who had walked out from the house as soon as the assembly started the process of the bills’ passage.
The PPP that had suggested recommendations regarding amendments to the bills also took back the proposed revisions after the request by the government. “This will create unity in the House and will create a better situation,” said the defence minister.
Taking the floor, PPP MNA Naveed Qamar took back his party’s recommendations regarding all three bills.
“Keeping in mind the situation in the country and the new situation in the region and after consulting with the rest of the opposition, […] in order to send a unified message, we (PPP) have decided not to press these amendments,” he said.
Speaker Asad Qaiser conducted a clause by clause reading of each bill, one after the other, putting them up for a voice vote.
The session was later adjourned till 4pm on Wednesday.
A day earlier, the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Defence unanimously approved the bills during an in-camera session, an indication that the government and opposition had reached an accord on the passage of the bill.
“The amendments were passed unanimously by the body. I congratulate the entire country and the opposition parties,” Khattak had said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan had previously extended Gen Bajwa’s tenure through a notification in August 2019, but the top court suspended it on Nov 26, 2019, due to irregularities in the manner of extension.
After three days of heightened uncertainty, the apex court, through a short order on Nov 28, 2019, had announced that Gen Bajwa would remain the COAS for another six months during which the parliament would legislate on the army chief’s extension/reappointment.
In its detailed verdict released on Dec 16, 2019, the top court had emphasised that it was up to the parliament to carry out legislation that would provide “certainty and predictability” to the post of the COAS for all times to come.
In the wake of the apex court’s order, the government had introduced the three bills regarding the services chiefs’ tenures in the National Assembly on Friday.