Gen Bajwa reaffirms military’s resolve to stay away from politics

News Desk
Thursday, Nov 24, 2022

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has reaffirmed military’s resolve to remain in its constitutional domain and stay away from interfering into political affairs.

In his farewell speech on Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony at GHQ, here on Wednesday, Gen Bajwa, who is due to retire as the Army chief on Nov 29, said in February last year, the military took a cautious and well thought out decision to not interfere in political matters and it was strictly committed to that pledge. However, he said it was unfortunate that instead of welcoming that commitment, some quarters started targeting the armed forces.

Gen Bajwa stressed armed forces do not shy away from constructive criticism by the people and political parties, but one should be careful in selection of words and their usage.

In an apparent reference to PTI’s regime change narrative, the Army chief said uncertainty was created in the country through a fake and unfounded narrative and “now they are trying to get away from this false narrative”.

Gen Bajwa said military leadership was dubbed with inappropriate titles. He made it clear the military leadership could do anything, but it could never go against country’s interest.

The Army chief said it was beyond imagination that the armed forces would sit idle against a foreign conspiracy. It was impossible “or more appropriately this would be a sin” if the army would be sitting idly amid a foreign conspiracy being hatched in the country, he said.

“The Pakistan Army had enough opportunities and resources to respond to this inappropriate invasion; however, the military leadership showed courage in the larger interest of the country while refraining from making negative statements,” he said. However, Gen Bajwa warned everyone should keep in mind that there was a limit to that patience, “I wish to move forward by keeping aside this inappropriate and offensive behaviour against me and the army.” He said the elements who wanted to create wedge between the armed forces and the people of Pakistan would not succeed in their nefarious designs. “We should keep Pakistan’s interest supreme as individuals and parties come and go, but Pakistan will remain there forever,” Gen Bajwa stressed. The Army chief said now the time had come that all the stakeholders should learn from their past mistakes and move forward by setting aside their personal ego.

Gen Bajwa stressed the need for adopting a true democratic culture in Pakistan by ending the environment of intolerance. “In 2018, using RTS as an excuse the winning party was called selected,” he recalled, adding after being ousted via a no-confidence motion one party named the other as “imported.” “We need to reject this attitude, winning and losing is a part of politics and all parties should have courage to accept their defeat or victory so that in next election instead of an imported or selected government an elected government

is formed,” he maintained.

Gen Bajwa said the army had initiated its process of “catharsis” and expected that political parties would follow the suit as well and reflect on their behaviour. “This is the reality that there have been mistakes from every institution, including political parties and civil society,” he said. “No single party can take Pakistan out of the current economic crisis,” he said, adding that lessons should be learned from such mistakes so the nation could move forward.

Recalling dismemberment of East Pakistan in 1971, he said it was a political rather than a military debacle and “we will not forget the sacrifices of our brave soldiers in that war”. The number of soldiers fighting was not 92,000 but only 34,000,” the Army chief said highlighting the number were against 250,000 Indian soldiers and 200,000 Mukti Bahini.

Paying rich tributes to the martyrs of the armed forces, the Army chief said the morale of bereaved families of the martyrs always remains high. “Sacrifices of our martyrs will not go in vain,” he said.