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Army Act amendment bill tabled in National Assembly

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has tabled Army Act amendment bill in the National Assembly (NA) which will pave the way for an extension to the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), ARY News reported on Friday.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak has submitted the Army Act Amendment Bill 2020 in the Upper House besides tabling two other amended laws for Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Act 2020 and Pakistan Navy Act 2020.

The assembly has also approved a resolution for postponing the question hour and adjourned the session till Saturday (tomorrow). Later, the three draft bills have been forwarded to the NA Standing Committee for Defence.

A meeting of the NA’s Standing Committee for Defence has been summoned at 2:30 pm today where the bill will be presented before the legislators for its approval.

The government had earlier decided to table a draft bill for amendment in the Constitution and the Army Act to pave the way for a three-year extension in Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s tenure in Wednesday’s session of the National Assembly (NA).

Read: Democratic process should be followed while amending Army Act: Bilawal

However, the decision to this effect came after a meeting of a parliamentary committee on the legislation today.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak presided over the meeting that decided to present the Army Services Act Amendment Bill in the lower house of Parliament. The bill will be referred to the relevant standing committee for discussion.

The decision to table the bill came in the wake of successful talks between the government and the opposition on the issue.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) assured the government of its unconditional support to the bill, whereas the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) has cautioned the government against rushing the bill through Parliament in utter disregard for the democratic process.

Read: PML-N decides to support COAS extension bill

Led by Pervez Khattak, a delegation of the ruling PTI had held talks with leaders of opposition parties separately.

Talking to the delegation, Bilawal underscored the need to follow the democratic process while making amendments to the Army Act.

The PPP chairman said that they wanted to positively engage with the democratic legislative process. He said that the more important the legislation the more important it is for us to follow the democratic process.

PML-N leader Mushahidullah Khan in a statement on Jan 2 had said the party has no objection to Gen Bajwa’s tenure extension. He said the prime minister can get powers to extend an army chief’s tenure after a tweak in the Army Act.

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