Former National Assembly speaker and PTI leader Asad Qaiser admitted that granting an extension to then chief of army staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa was a mistake and a “wrong decision” of his government.
In an interview with a local TV channel, Qaiser said “Everyone [in the party ranks] regretted the mistake. Whatever the circumstances were, a mistake had been made.”
General Qamar Javed Bajwa was due to retire on 28th November 2019 but then-prime minister Imran Khan approved a three-year extension to his tenure as the COAS on 19th August — just three months before he bid farewell to the top army post.
Meanwhile, the extension in General Bajwa’s tenure was challenged in the Supreme Court. Later, the petitioner pleaded with the court that he wanted to withdraw his plea, however, then-chief justice of Pakistan Asif Saeed Khosa rejected the application and converted the case into a suo motu notice, saying that the matter fell into the domain of public interest.
In November 2019, a three-member bench of the top court, in a brief order, announced that General Qamar Javed Bajwa would retain his post for another six months. The apex court had also asked parliament to legislate on the extension of an army chief during the period.
The notification extending General (retd) Bajwa’s tenure was finally issued on January 28, 2020, after the parliament passed a law to settle the issue pertaining to the extension of the army chief’s tenure.
The extension was a “collective decision” of all political parties. When asked about background discussions leading to the decision, Qaiser said, “It was the wrong decision, no matter why or how it was taken.”
The PTI leader added that political parties have become dynasties with no roots among the people.
Commenting about Imran Khan’s conditional offer for talks with the government, Qaiser said they are ready for negotiations if early elections are a part of the agenda.
In an interview with a private TV channel the PTI chief also admitted that extending the tenure of the former COAS was not the correct decision. He termed the decision as his “biggest mistake”.