Nawaz Sharif’s intention to appoint army chief only on ‘seniority basis’ challenged in SC

By Sarmad Ali

Islamabad, May 17 ( A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging Mian Nawaz Sharif’s intention to appoint an army chief only on seniority basis after the retirement of Gen Kayani by end of this year.
Petitioner Shahid Orakzai has questioned the pronouncement of a returned candidate to the National Assembly (Nawaz Sharif) that he would appoint the senior most general officer of Pakistan Army as the next Chief of Army Staff implying that seniority is the sole Constitutional criterion for the military appointments in Article 243.
The petition is based on the following points of law: i. Whether the four military appointments mentioned in Article 243 are to be made strictly by seniority or length of military service?
ii. Whether the Prime Minister can, by himself, determine the criterion for appointment?
iii. Whether the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces and the Prime Minister can gauge the professional competence of any military officer for appointment under Article 243?
iv. Whether any member elect of the National Assembly can interpret any provision of the Constitution?
v. Whether any person in contact with a private army at war with Pakistan can advise the President to appoint the Chief of Army Staff?
The petitioner says on 12-10-1999, as the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Sharif had plunged the Republic in military rule when he childishly removed the Chief of Army Staff. “That an year before he had forced the previous Chief of Army Staff to resign his Constitutional Office although under the Constitution no Office holder can be compelled to resign. The act of resignation is a voluntary act under the Constitution which does not permit coercion.”
While all other office holders can resign the office by free will there is no provision in the Constitution for the Chief of Army Staff to tender his resignation.
The petitioner said Sharif has recently made a public statement that under the Constitution the military command is subservient to the civil government and that he would appoint the senior most general as the next Chief of Army Staff when the incumbent retires. Sharif emphasis on seniority is purely his own preference and caution. It is designed to show that the next COAS would not be his hand picked general.
Neither the Constitution nor the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 emphasize seniority as the sole criterion for promotions of commissioned officers under the military law. Promotion by seniority will paralyze the Armed Forces of Pakistan and freeze professional development of the commissioned officers.
The petitioner said Sharif is extremely poor knowledge of the Constitution and the Military Law pose a serious threat to the maintenance and discipline of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. “In the past Sharif had once promoted a lieutenant general from the Corps of Engineers as the Chief of Army Staff. His unlawful act triggered a coup by the General Staff in the General Headquarters of Pakistan Army although the Chief of Army Staff was then outside Pakistan.” – Pak Destiny

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