ISLAMABAD: The Standing Committee on Defense of the National Assembly has been called again today to discuss the changes to the Army Act, the Air Force Act and the Navy Act, a few days after it approved a bill to govern the term of chiefs of service.
The Standing Committee meeting was called after it was determined that Parliament’s rules and regulations were infringed during the Committee’s January 3 session. After the defense committee’s go-ahead, the parliament must vote on the bill.
Sources said the session was presided over by parliamentary secretary Captain Jamil Ahmed, who was opposed to the parliamentary procedures.
Sources further said that when the time came to pass the bills, Ahmed did not call for a vote in violation of the lower house rules and regulations. Therefore, when it meets today, Amjad Khan Niazi will chair the session of the Standing Committee to discuss the bills for amendments and vote in favor of them.
Representatives of the upper house were also called in the previous meeting to discuss the bills. Senators were not asked to attend the meeting on Monday, however, sources say.
The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) have already approved the proposed amendments. The PML-N has declared that it will ‘unconditionally’ support the bill, while the PPP has called for follow-up to the ‘ democratic legislative process.’
These laws also set the maximum age limit of 64-year-old head of the three service chiefs— army chief, air staff chief, and naval staff chief. If the bills are passed, the prime minister will have the right to prolong any service chief’s term and the president must give the extension or reappointment a final nod.
Under the clause 8B of the bill, the president, on the advice of the prime minister, may “reappoint the Chief of the Army Staff for additional tenure of three (03) years, on such terms and conditions, as may be determined by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister, in the national security interest or exigencies, from time to time”.
“Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act or any other law, or any order or judgement of any Court, the appointment, reappointment or extension of the Chief of the Army Staff, or the exercise of discretion by the appointing authority in this regard, shall not be called into question before any court on any ground whatsoever.”