PILDAT Monitor on Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan | November 2019


This monitor is meant to identify key developments during the month on Civil Military Relations in Pakistan with selected high-profile international developments included occasionally.

In this Issue:

  1. The Curious Case of Extension
  2. PTI Government Moves to Stop Verdict in Treason Trial against Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf
  3. Former DG ISI Pasha persuaded prominent PML Leaders to join PTI: Parvez Elahi
  4. Prime Minister appoints Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
  5. Newly-formed CPEC Authority to be headed by Retired Lt. General
  6. 226th Corps Commander Conference
  7. Premier-COAS Interactions
  8. International Developments

The Curious Case of Extension

On November 25, Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended the Federal Government’s August 2019 notification for the extension/reappointment of Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, for another term of three years after completion of his tenure on November 28, 2019.

The Supreme Court bench comprising Chief Justice of Pakistan, Justice Asif Saeed Khosa, Justice Mian Mazhar Alam Khan Miankhel and Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah issued notices to the President, Prime Minister and the Federal Government raising questions about justification or rationale for extension or reappointment, terming the stated purpose of “regional security environment” as “quite vague.” The notification questioned that “if at all there is any regional security threat, then it is the gallant armed forces of the country as an institution which are to meet the said threat and an individual’s role in that regard may be minimal.” The notification went on to state that “if the stated reason is held to be correct and valid then every person serving in the armed forces would claim re-appointment/extension in his service on the basis of the said reason.” The Court also raised question on the applicability of Regulation No. 255 of Army Regulations (Rules) with regards to its provision regarding re-appointment or extension in the service of a Chief of Army Staff.

However, on November 28, a day before the retirement of Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Bajwa, and after three days of hearings, the Supreme Court granted a six-month extension to Gen. Bajwa’s tenure as COAS. The Supreme Court order has asked the Government and the Parliament to specify the terms and conditions of the service of the COAS through an act of Parliament and clarify the scope of Article 243 of the Constitution, which grants President the power to appoint, and determine salaries and allowances of, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the three Services Chiefs, on advice of the Prime Minister. The Supreme Court gave the Parliament, a period of 6 months to enact necessary legislation to determine the length of the army chief’s tenure and the question of its extension.

The most promising aspect of this development has been the unparalleled initiative by the Supreme Court of Pakistan which has raised pertinent questions about the gaps in the existing legal framework covering appointment of service chiefs, rationale behind granting or not granting service extension to a Chief of Army Staff (and perhaps other service chiefs), its consequences for the institution and the country, and the legal and constitutional process that should be followed if such a decision is ever taken.

Where, on the one hand, the response by the PTI-led Federal Government to the Supreme Court notification was termed by leading media comment in Pakistan as “the most shambolic episode in the PTI government’s tenure,”[1] a snowballing controversy of its own making,” and that the “government’s ineptness.. threatens to drag the military as a whole into disrepute,”[2] on the other hand, another unfortunate aspect of this saga was the disconcerting silence on the issue by the leading political parties of the country. While the hearing on the issue of extension continued in the Supreme Court, none of the mainstream parties put forward any perspective, let alone a principled position, on whether extensions in the tenure of Chiefs of Army Staff should or should not be granted and under what conditions. Whether the parties remained silent due to expediency or lack of preparedness on a principle issue of policy, the parties will indeed have to develop and articulate a perspective in order to legislate on the crucial issue of appointments and tenure of service chiefs in. The Parliament, indeed, has a historic opportunity to legally define the issue in a manner that is in keeping with the Constitutional ethos of Pakistan.

PTI Government Moves to Stop Verdict in Treason Trial against Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf

On November 25, the Federal government, through the Interior Ministry and the additional attorney general, petitioned the Islamabad High Court to stop the Special Court from announcement of its verdict in the high treason case registered against Gen. (Retd.) Pervez Musharraf for suspending the Constitution.

On November 19, the Special Court, comprising Chief Justice of the Peshawar High Court, Justice Waqar Seth, Justice Nazar Akbar of the Sindh High Court and Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court, had reserved its judgement in the treason case and had said that it would be announced on November 28.

On November 27, taking up the Federal Government’s petition, the full bench of the Islamabad High Court under Chief Justice Athar Minallah stopped the Special Court from announcing its verdict in the high treason case. While the Special Court did not announce the verdict, it maintained that the order of the Islamabad High Court was not binding on the Special Court. The Islamabad High Court, has, however, ruled again that its order of stopping the Special Court from announcing its verdict in the treason case against Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf is binding on it regardless of the fact that the Special Court comprises judges of three high courts. [3]

In its petition to stop the Special Court from announcing its judgement, the PTI-led Federal Government had maintained that the complaint filed by the previous PML-N government against Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution had neither been filed through an authorised person nor had the Special Court been formed properly. The Interior Ministry, seeking the deferment of verdict against Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf, argued that the decision to file complaint against Gen Musharraf was not taken under the guidelines of the apex court, that the prosecution team was appointed in an arbitrary manner while the head of the prosecution, Mr. Mohammad Akram Sheikh resigned “unilaterally” despite the fact that the Interior Ministry wanted him to conclude the case, and that even though the prosecution team was removed after loopholes in the case were identified, it submitted written arguments before the court without any authorization of the Interior Ministry. The Interior Ministry also added that in the case of high treason against Gen. (Retd.) Musharraf, there could be some other accused in this case who had abetted Mr. Musharraf in declaring a state of emergency on November 3, 2007 but only the ex-military ruler was “singled out and is facing solo trial.” [4]

Former DG ISI Pasha persuaded prominent PML Leaders to join PTI: Parvez Elahi

In an interview on Mr. Saleem Safi’s programme Jirga on November 16, Mr. Parvez Elahi, Speaker, Provincial Assembly of the Punjab and one of the top leaders of the PML, said that in 2010, the then DG ISI, Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, persuaded a number of prominent PML party members to join the PTI. He said that the party leadership complained to the then COAS, Gen. Kayani who asked DG ISI Pasha to entertain PML’s complaint over the issue. While initially during their meeting, DG ISI, Lt. Gen. Pasha, denied that he was coercing or facilitating membership for the PTI, but after a while, he offered to arrange a meeting between Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain and the PTI leader, Mr. Imran Khan, according to Chaudhry Parvez Elahi.

Verbatim excerpt of Mr. Parvez Elahi’s interview is given below:

Chaudhry Parvez Elahi: Kiyunke PTI mein uss waqt hamare log kaafi chalay gaye thay..; balke hum ne shikayat bhi ki Kiyani Sahib [then COAS Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani] ko ji ke yeh Pasha sahib [then DG ISI, Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha] hamare bande taur rahay hain tau phir unhon ne kaha kay aap ke banday khud ja rahay hain; tau hum ne kaha nahin ji nahin, hamaray paas tau saboot hai ke yeh [Gen. Pasha] phone kertay hain tau.. yeh 2010 tha; tau phir Kayani sahib ne Pasha sahib kau phone kiya ke bhai un ko [PML leadership] aap bulain khanay pe, woh ye bohot ziyada agitate kar rahay hain ji ke yeh ho raha hai un ki party ke saath; tau unhon [Gen. Pasha] ne bulaya hamain aur hum gaye unke paas; pehlay shuru mein hum ne kaha ji ke aap kau nahi tornay chahiyen, aap kyun hamari jamaat ke khilaaf hain; woh apni mehnat ker rahay hain PTI walay, karain; aap tau na banday le kar jaayen; kehtay nahin nahin nahin, yeh aisi baat nahin hai; tau phir aur baatain shuru ho gayin; Shujaat sahib ne na kisi aur baat ki taraf pura discussion turn kar di; tau Pasha sahib bhool gaye jo pehele baat hui thi; tau [Pasha] kehtay hain Chaudhry Sahib [Shujaat] aap ke paas tau bari wisdom hai, mein [Pasha] Imran Khan se na aap ki meeting kara doon; tau Shujaat sahib ne kaha lau pakar liya hai hum ne aap kau; aap tau phir un [Imran Khan; PTI] ki numaindgi kar rahain hain hamare paas baithay.”

Saleem Safi asks: Tau yeh aap se numayan logon mein kaun kaun aap se le gaye thay PTI mein Pasha sahib?

Parvez Elahi: Jo aaj numayan nazar aatay hain

Saleem Safi: Jehangir Tarin sahib thay?

Parvez Elahi: Jee

Saleem Safi: Acha Aur Kaun?

Parvez Elahi: Aleem Khan Sahib thay; jitne banday aap ko nazar aatay hain.” [5]

Prime Minister appoints Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee

In a press release issued by the Prime Minister’s office on November 21, the PMO reported that Prime Minister Imran Khan has appointed Lt. Gen. Nadeem Raza, HI (M) as the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee with effect from November 27, 2019.

The press release went on to state that “It may be recalled that notification for reappointment of General Qamar Javed Bajwa, NI (M) as COAS for another tenure has already been issued on 19th August, 2019.” [6]

Newly-formed CPEC Authority to be headed by Retired Lt. General

On November 26, the Establishment Division announced the appointment of Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Asim Saleem Bajwa as Chairman of the newly-formed China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (CPECA), for a period of four years.

The CPEC Authority was formed through an ordinance on October 08, 2019 and as per the Ordinance “will be with the Planning, Development and Reform Division, under the Rules of Business 1973.”

The Authority has been created by the Government to be “primarily responsible” for coordination, monitoring and evaluation to ensure implementation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor related activities. It has been given the responsibilities to: interface with the People’s Republic of China for identifying new areas of cooperation projects; organize meetings of Joint Cooperation Committee and Joint Working Groups; ensure inter-provincial and inter-ministerial coordination for China Pakistan Economic Corridor related activities; ensure narrative-building and communication of China Pakistan Economic Corridor related activities and conduct sectoral research for informed decision-making and long-term planning. [7]

226th Corps Commander Conference

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reported that the 226th Corps Commander Conference, presided by General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS), took place on November 4 at the GHQ. Reportedly, the conference “reviewed geo strategic and national security environment, internal security, situation along Eastern Border, LoC and Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir.[8]

COAS meets Foreign Dignitaries

  1. On November 6, Mohammed Bin Abdullah Al Ayesh, Assistant Defence Minister, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, called on the COAS, at the GHQ. [9]
  1. On November 7, COAS met with Director General of the NATO International Military Staff (DGIMS), Lieutenant General Hans Werner Wiermann.
  1. On November 11, Lieutenant General You Haitao, Deputy Commander of Chinese People’s Liberation Army, called on General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff at the GHQ. [10]
  1. On November 13, H.E, Dr. Geoffrey Shaw, Australian High Commissioner to Pakistan, called on the COAS at the GHQ. [11]
  1. On November 19, during a visit to Iran, COAS met Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Admiral Ali Shamkhani and Army Chief Major General Abdul Rahim Mousavi at Tehran. [12]
  1. While in Iran, Army Chief Gen. Qamar Bajwa, also met with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Admiral Ali Shamkhani and Reportedly, Gen Bajwa’s trip to Iran took place for talks on defence ties between the two countries. He was accompanied by Director-General Analysis at ISI Maj Gen Muhammad Saeed and Director General Military Intelligence Maj Gen Sarfraz Ali. [13]

Premier-COAS Interactions

Reportedly, Chief of Army Staff only met Prime Minister twice during the month. While media has reported a few other meetings during the Supreme Court’s suspension of the extension of COAS but no official records are available for those.

It must be reported that the DG ISPR reportedly has said that Prime Minister Imran Khan and Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa always remain in contact, adding that some meetings are reported and some are not as it is not necessary to report each and every meeting between the PM and COAS.[14]

  1. On November 15, Chief of Army Staff called on Prime Minister. The Prime Minister’s Office reported that the two discussed the security situation of the country including situation in the Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir, western border and internal security. [15]
  2. Chief of Army Staff reportedly called on Prime Minister Imran Khan on November 21 where the two, reportedly, discussed matters related to national security.[16]

International Developments

A Coup in Bolivia?

The South American nation Bolivia, which held its election on October 20, saw organized mass, anti-government demonstrations by opposition leaders, claiming vote fraud when the vote count showed a win for sitting President, Evo Morales, the first president to come from an indigenous background through an election in 2005 who, during his tenure, had nationalised the country’s oil and gas industries. [17]

As the clashes continued in Bolivia post-election, even though Mr. Morales agreed to hold fresh election, his political rivals did not want him to contest in any new poll. The chief of the Bolivian armed forces, Gen Williams Kaliman, then urged Mr Morales to step down in the interests of peace and stability. As Mr. Morales lost the support of Bolivia’s armed forces, he was finally forced to quit on November 10 and termed it as a coup – a military takeover, against him.[18] Mr. Morales then fled to Mexico, claiming his life was at risk in Bolivia. Both he and his former top minister have been accused of sedition and terrorism by the interim government.[19]

On November 13, Right-wing Senator Jeanine Áñez declared herself interim President shortly after Mr. Morales’ resignation. She was formally recognised by the US and according to media reports, almost straightaway, broke diplomatic ties with the socialist governments of Cuba and Venezuela, previously two of Bolivia’s closest allies in the region. On November 27, Senator Jeanine Áñez appointed Bolivia’s first US ambassador in 11 years. [20]

Trump’s falling out with the military establishment

The Economist has reported that US President Donald Trump who started his term by giving key cabinet positions to military officers has had a falling out after several incidents involving interventions in military justice and firing/resignations of military officials from his staff. On November 15, 2019, Mr. Trump pardoned two military personnel accused of war crimes and revered the demotion of another officer accused of posing with dead captive. The Secretary of Navy, Richard Spencer, who retorted, was soon fired. This has added to Mr. Trump’s sour relations with the military establishment lately.

Even though Mr. Trump’s military appointments did not outnumber military officials in the Obama administration, he initially appointed military officials on key cabinet positions otherwise occupied by civilians since decades. In December 2018, he delivered a partisan speech to troops in Iraq targeting Democrats. Experts believe Mr. Trump’s request for a grand military parade in Washington also had a political agenda.

His assault on civil-military norms has drawn backlash from retired Generals. Experts fear the trend of back and forth verbal attacks by the President and retired Generals gives them an increasing role in electoral politics. During the 2016 Presidential Elections, both Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton had retired Generals backing their campaigns. They also believe the public usually cannot distinguish retired serving military officers from retired, hence they can colour the perception of the latter.[21]


  1. Aljazeera, [Website], 2019, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/11/pakistan-top-court-rule-extend-army-chief-tenure-191128081059856.html (accessed December 4, 2019)

  2. Dawn, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1519292/a-shambolic-affair (accessed December 4, 2019)
  3. Dawn, [Website], 2019, IHC says its order in Musharraf case binding on special court (accessed December 5, 2019)
  4. Dawn, [Website], 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1518847/govt-moves-to-get-treason-case-verdict-put-off (accessed December 5, 2019)
  5. Full Video of Jirga with Chaudhry Parvez Elahi Interview of November 16, 2019 available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-i8bhwIoh0 (accessed December 5, 2019)
  6. Prime Minister’s Office, [Website], 2019, https://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=3162 (accessed December 5, 2019)
  7. National Assembly of Pakistan [Website], 2019, The China Pakistan Economic Authority Ordinance, 2019, http://na.gov.pk/uploads/documents/1575477741_189.pdf (accessed December 5, 2019)
  8. ISPR, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5485 (accessed December 5, 2019)
  9. The Nation, [Website], 2019, https://nation.com.pk/07-Nov-2019/coas-saudi-minister-take-up-security-co-op (accessed December 5, 2019)
  10. ISPR, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5493 (accessed December 5, 2019)
  11. ISPR, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5497 (accessed December 5, 2019)
  12. ISPR, [Website], 2019, https://www.ispr.gov.pk/press-release-detail.php?id=5511 (accessed December 5, 2019)
  13. Dawn, [Website], https://www.dawn.com/news/1517650/bajwa-rouhani-agree-to-boost-security-ties (accessed December 5, 2019)
  14. The News, [Website], 2019, https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/571079-not-necessary-to-report-each-meeting-of-pm-coas, (accessed December 5, 2019)
  15. Prime Minister’s Office, [Website], 2019, https://pmo.gov.pk/press_release_detailes.php?pr_id=3148 (accessed December 5, 2019)
  16. Express Tribune, [Website], 2019, https://tribune.com.pk/story/2103913/1-high-level-meet-army-chief-calls-pm-imran/ (accessed December 5, 2019)
  17. BBC, [Website], 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/c2mzxvpymppt/bolivia-crisis (accessed December 6, 2019)
  18. The Economist, [Website], 2019, https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/16/was-there-a-coup-in-bolivia (accessed December 6, 2019)
  19. BBC, [Website], 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-50520906?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/c2mzxvpymppt/bolivia-crisis&link_location=live-reporting-story (accessed December 06, 2019)
  20. BBC, [Website], 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-50568101?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/topics/c2mzxvpymppt/bolivia-crisis&link_location=live-reporting-story (accessed December 06, 2019)

  21. The Economist, [Website], 2019, https://www.economist.com/united-states/2019/11/28/donald-trump-falls-out-with-the-military-establishment-he-once-wooed (accessed December 9, 2019)