ISLAMABAD: Is there more than meets the eye in the legal challenge to Pakistan army chief General Qamar Bajwa’s three-year extension that led to severe embarrassment for the general? Could the scheme have been cooked up by generals whose prospects were effectively scuttled by General Bajwa’s continuance?
Just two days ahead of General Bajwa’s completion of a three-year term as army chief and before the Supreme Court was to decide his extension case, the Pakistan army had announced a major reshuffle of its top brass. Lt Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza was appointed Chief of General Staff — the most important and prestigious appointment after the COAS. Lt Gen Muhammad Amir was made adjutant general.
The list issued by Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army’s media wing, also included names of two corps commanders. Lt Gen Shaheen Mazhar Mahmood was made commander of Mangla Corps (which deals with LoC and all India ops) and Lt Gen Nauman Mehmood was appointed commander of Peshawar Corps (western border and anti-terror operations).
The petition in the Supreme Court against General Bajwa’s extension, coming as it did just as the crucial appointments were finalised, was filed by advocate Riaz Hanif Rahi, whose track record indicates that he has invariably filed references against persons inconvenient for the army like former chief justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry and Justice Qazi Faez Isa.
Rahi is known for filing controversial petitions in courts. The latest petition is seen to be something that could not be considered without strong backing from within the military. Rahi has also challenged the special court set up to try former president Pervez Musharraf for treason. His antecedents strongly suggest that he was instigated to challenge General Bajwa’s extension by asection of army officers who were adversely affected by it, feel Indian sources. Lt Gen Sarfraz Sattar, who was the senior most after Gen Bajwa, retired after Lt Gen Nadeem Raza was appointed chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee on November 27. Gen Raza will serve for three years. The appointment is made by the prime minister. After Gen Raza, Lt Gen Humayun Aziz is the senior most.


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