False foreign conspiracy narrative being backpedalled now: COAS

News Desk
Thursday, Nov 24, 2022

By our correspondent

RAWALPINDI: COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has said a false ‘foreign conspiracy’ narrative was created to spread chaos in the country which is being backpedalled now. He declared it simply impossible or sinful that the army would sit idly amid a foreign conspiracy being hatched in the country. Gen Bajwa said many sectors used very inappropriate language against the army which we tolerated but there is a limit to patience.

Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa was addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

General Bajwa said that the basic job of the armed forces is to protect the geographical boundaries. The COAS said that armies around the world are seldom criticised, however, the Pakistan Army is often subjected to criticism. “I think the reason for that is the army’s involvement in politics. That is why in February, the army decided to not interfere in politics. I assure you we are strictly adamant on this and will remain so.”

The army chief said that instead of welcoming the military’s decision, “many sectors used very inappropriate and undignified language while making the army the target of severe criticism.”

He dedicated a major portion of his speech to political matters, saying that he often wondered that the Indian Army carried out the most human rights violations in the world but “their people seldom make them the target of criticism”.

“In contrast to that, our army which day and night remains busy in serving the nation, is often made the subject of criticism,” he said. “A major reason for this is the army’s interference in politics for the last 70 years which is unconstitutional.”

He said: “To criticise the army is the right of [political] parties and the people, but the language used [should be careful]. We tolerated that but there is a limit to patience,” he said.

“Many people subjected the army to criticism and a false narrative was created to spread chaos in the country,” he said and added, “Now an escape route is being taken from this false narrative”.

Berating the PTI’s “foreign conspiracy” narrative, Gen Bajwa said that it is 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.

Gen Bajwa said the army had initiated its process of “catharsis” and expected that political parties would follow 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. 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.

The COAS went on to say that a true democratic culture has to be adopted in Pakistan by eradicating the climate of intolerance. “In 2018, using RTS as an excuse, the winning party was called selected,” he recalled, adding that 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.

“Political stability is mandatory and the time has come for all political stakeholders to set aside their ego, learn from past mistakes, move forward and take Pakistan out of this crisis.”

Touching upon history, the COAS said that he wanted to “correct” some facts regarding the events of 1971. “1971 was not a military, but a political failure. Our army fought courageously in East Pakistan,” the COAS highlighted. He said the number of soldiers fighting was not 92,000 but 34,000 while the others were in different government departments. He added that these 34,000 soldiers were confronted by an Indian Army of 250,000 soldiers and 200,000 members of the Mukti Bahini. “Against these heavy odds, our army fought bravely and gave exemplary sacrifices which were acknowledged by Indian Army chief Field Marshal Manekshaw.”

He said the nation had yet not owned up to these sacrifices which was a great injustice. “Taking advantage of this occasion, I salute these martyrs and will continue to do so. They are our heroes and the nation should be proud of them,” Bajwa added.

Earlier, the COAS apologised for the delay in the Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony due to the floods. He paid tribute to the martyrs of the armed forces and assured their families that the Pakistan Army will never leave the bereaved alone. “Firstly, I would like to pay tribute to the martyrs who are the pride of Pakistan while acknowledging the patience of their bereaved families,” he said, reassuring that the army will continue to fulfil their financial needs. “I feel proud to have served as the commander of this great army for six years,” General Bajwa said adding that peace in cities and villages is accredited to the sacrifices of its martyrs.

The ceremony was postponed in September due to the catastrophic floods across Pakistan following heavy monsoon rains.

Muhammad Anis adds: The COAS said armies around the world were seldom criticised; however, the Pakistan Army was often made a subject of criticism. “I think the reason for that is the army’s involvement in politics. That is why in February, the army decided to not interfere in politics,” the army chief said.

General Bajwa recalled that Pakistan Army, after a thorough consideration in February this year, decided that it would not interfere in political matters, promising that it strictly stands by its commitment and would continue to do so in future. “It is unconstitutional if the army interferes in political matter,” he said.

The COAS, however, regretted that instead of appreciating the Pakistan Army’s constitutional approach, it was made a target of undue criticism and improper and indecent language was used for its leadership. “Those who want to create rifts between the armed forces and people will fail in their objectives,” he added.

Bajwa said that the army had always served the country and the nation beyond its mandate and would continue to do so. “Whether it is the matter of bringing country to [FATF] white list, securing cheaper gas from Qatar or getting loans from friendly countries, fencing borders, meeting challenge of Covid-19 pandemic, the Pakistan Army served the country and nation more than its mandate,” he claimed.

“Nations that forget their martyrs fade away. During times of war and peace, Pakistan Army is always engaged in defending its motherland with their lives on the edge,” he said adding that sacrifices of martyrs are behind peace in the country.