Extension of Services Chiefs’ Term


Extension in the tenure of services chiefs, especially that of the Chiefs of the Army Staff in Pakistan has been a controversial subject.

The Pakistan Army has taken over power directly through four (4) coup d’états since the inception of Pakistan leading to self-extension in the tenures of military chiefs in power during those periods. This has meant that the first Pakistani Commander in Chief of the Army Gen, (later Field Marshall) Muhammad Ayub Khan stayed in office for over 7 years and 284 days while as Commander-in-Chief, General Muhammad Musa’s tenure spanned over 7 years and 325 days, Gen. Agha Muhammad Yahya Khan for 5 years and 93 days. Gen. Gul Hassan Khan’s tenure as C-in-C was curtailed to only 74 days, followed by General Tikka Khan’s tenure of 3 years and 364 days.

After usurping power in 1977, Gen. Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq self-extended his tenure for 12 years and 169 days when he died through an air crash on August 17, 1988. The next coup was by Gen. Pervez Musharraf who extended his tenure to 9 years and 53 days when he was forced to don-off his uniform on November 29, 2007.

The only Chief of the Army Staff whose tenure was extended for the first time by an elected government for a second term was Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. He was followed by Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa who also received a similar favour when as Prime Minister Mr. Imran Khan extended his tenure for another term leading to a judicial review and subsequent legislation by the Parliament.

This Issue Paper compiled by PILDAT looks at the events preceding the amendments made in the Army, Navy and Air Force Acts that have paved the legal way for extending service tenures of the three services chiefs.