RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa Wednesday — in his last address as the COAS — said political parties should accept results so "we have elected government in the next elections rather than a selected or imported one".
Addressing the Defence and Martyrs’ day ceremony — being held at the GHQ Rawalpindi, he said that those who think they can create rifts between the army and "people are mistaken".
“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 truly 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.”
He 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.”
The COAS said that armies around the world are seldom criticised, however, 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.”
“Many people subjected the army to criticism and a false narrative was created to spread chaos in the country,” he said, reiterating that the military leadership can do anything but cannot go against the country.
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.
“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.
Gen Bajwa further added that everyone should keep in mind that there is a limit to this patience, “I wish to move forward by keeping aside this inappropriate and offensive behaviour against me and the army.”
1971 event not a 'military, but political failure'
At the outset of his address, Gen Bajwa assured the families of the martyrs 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 and acknowledge the patience of their bereaved families,” he said, reassuring that the army will continue to fulfil their financial needs.
It should be noted that the Defence and Martyrs day ceremony — annually held on September 6 to commemorate the sacrifices of heroes who lost their lives in the 1965 war — was postponed due to the floods in the country.
“I feel proud to have served as the commander of this great army for six years,” the outgoing COAS said, adding that the peace in cities and villages is accredited to the sacrifices of its martyrs.
Touching upon history during his address, Gen Bajwa said that he wanted to “correct” some facts regarding the events of 1971.
“The event held in 1971 were not a military, but a political failure. Our army fought courageously in East Pakistan,” the COAS highlighted.
A video highlighting the devastations caused by the cataclysmic floods in Pakistan was played at the onset of the ceremony. The video paid tribute to the military’s relief, rescue and rehabilitation efforts.
It should be noted that this is the last Defence and Martyrs' day ceremony being attended by Gen Bajwa as the chief of army staff as he will be retiring by the end of the month after commanding the army for six years.
He was appointed army chief in 2016 for a three-year tenure, which was extended by three years after parliament legislated on the tenures of services chiefs on the orders of the Supreme Court.
A documentary titled Falah-o-Behbood was also played during the ceremony which was attended by serving and retired military officials at the GHQ. The documentary shed light on the military efforts for the welfare of its soldiers and their families.
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