Pakistan’s parliament on Tuesday passed laws limiting the maximum age and tenure of the country’s army chief, a significant move in a country which has been ruled by the powerful military for nearly half its existence.
The legislation came after the supreme court last year challenged Prime Minister Imran Khan’s decision to extend the appointment of army chief General Qamer Javed Bajwa, 59, by a further three years.
Pakistan has been ruled by the military for roughly half its 72-year history, and the army is seen as the most powerful institution in the country.
The term for a military chief is supposed to be three years, but Bajwa was the latest in a long line of generals to see their tenure extended.
The legislation passed in Pakistan’s lower house Tuesday also sets a maximum age of 64 for the chiefs of the army, air force and navy.
The bill now goes to the senate, where it is expected to pass before being signed into law by the president.
Bajwa was appointed to lead the military in 2016, taking over from the popular General Raheel Sharif.
Since taking power, however, Bajwa and the military have been criticised for cracking down on civil society and have been accused of orchestrating Khan’s victory in the 2018 elections.
There have been nine army chiefs since Pakistan’s independence in 1947 following partition with India.