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Pakistani Lawmakers Approve Extending Term Of Powerful Army Chief

FILE: General Qamar Javed Bajwa
FILE: General Qamar Javed Bajwa

Pakistan's lower house of parliament has approved legislation that would extend Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa's term by another three years.

Passage by the chamber on January 7 came despite the objections of some political parties that accuse Pakistan's military of heavy-handed tactics in its anti-militant operations along the border with neighboring Afghanistan.

The extension must still be approved by the upper house of parliament in Islamabad, which is expected to support the measure.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's government approved the extension for Bajwa in August, citing a worsening national-security situation with neighboring India to justify the extension at the end of Bajwa's initial three-year term.

But in November, the Supreme Court struck down the extension -- ordering the government and army to produce legal provisions and arguments for the reappointment.

Khan's government responded by drafting legislation that the lower house approved on January 7, clearing the way for the extension after the expected approval by the upper house.

Pakistan's two main opposition parties have a long history of clashing with the military, but backed the extension in an apparent attempt to avoid a politically damaging confrontation.

Two smaller parties and some members of parliament from Pakistan's northwestern districts along the Afghan border opposed the extension.

They accuse Pakistan's military of committing rights abuses during its anti-militant operations. The army rejects such accusations.

Based on reporting by RFE/RL's Radio Mashaal and Reuters