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COAS is neither seeking extension of tenure nor will he accept one, says DG ISPR

DG ISPR says Pakistan's progress is in democracy, there will never be martial law in the country

By Web Desk
April 14, 2022

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi on Thursday, April 14, 2022. — Screengrab via YouTube/ PTV Live
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi on Thursday, April 14, 2022. — Screengrab via YouTube/ PTV Live 

RAWALPINDI: Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Babar Iftikhar on Thursday said that the Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa is neither seeking the extension of his tenure nor will he accept it.

Addressing a press conference in Rawalpindi, Maj Gen Babar said that any effort to create a rift between people and the armed forces is against national interest.

 While welcoming constructive criticism, Maj Gen Babar said a "malicious campaign is being run against the army and its leadership, using even deep-fake technology."

"There is an engineered movement designed against the Pakistan military", he said, adding that character assassination of the military on the basis of rumours is not tolerable under any circumstances.

Word 'conspiracy' not included in NSC statement

Major General Babar clarified that the word "conspiracy" was not used in the statement issued after a meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) last month.

He said he cannot discuss what was discussed in the meeting, but noted that the word "conspiracy" was not used.

He, however, said that the stance of the military leadership was conveyed in the meeting as well as the statement issued after it. "Whatever the meeting concluded is present in the statement."

He said that Pakistan's military agencies are working day and night against such plots and will not let them get successful.

'Threat letter'

In response to a question, the DG ISPR said the "cyphers" are top-secret documents that are sent to the Foreign Office by Pakistani ambassadors from across the world.

"...we also receive some of these [cyphers] at the directorate of the Inter-Services Intelligence that is considered to be related to national security," the military's spokesperson said.

ISI had started its work when the cypher was received on March 7 or 8, and based on that, it gave its input to the NSC, the DG ISI said, but noted that cyphers come under the domain of the Foreign Office and only those related to the national security were shared with the military.

Three options

The DG ISPR said that the establishment did not put forth options before then prime minister Imran Khan. He, however, said that during the deadlock, the Prime Minister’s Office contacted the military leadership to resolve the matter.

"The political parties were not ready for talks with each other to end the deadlock at that time," he said, adding that the army chief and DG ISI visited the PM’s Office at their request to play the role of mediator.

Options of the no-confidence motion, PM’s resignation and dissolution of assemblies after withdrawal of the motion were discussed there, he said, adding that the then prime minister had declared the third option as “acceptable”.

No marshal law in future

Maj Gen Babar said that Pakistan's future lies only in democracy, adding that the Army has nothing to do with politics. "No martial law will be imposed in the country in the future," he added.

Nuclear assets 'not affiliated' with political parties

Referring to Imran Khan's statement regarding the nuclear assets "handed over to thieves", Gen Iftikhar said that everyone has to be careful when speaking about nuclear assets.

"As far as our political leadership is concerned, the nuclear assets are not affiliated with any particular political leadership. Since Pakistan's nuclear weapon has been started, all the governments that have come, have worked with all their loyalty has advanced the programme and helped it get where we are today."

"This is the reason that our command and control mechanism and our assets' security is one of the best systems in the international evaluation."

Russia visit 

When asked if the army was taken into confidence over the former prime minister's visit to Russia, Gen Iftikhar said that the army was on board.

"However, at that time no one in their wildest dreams had known that Russia would wage a war on Ukraine on the same day, which was very embarrassing."

BBC's report 

Responding to a question about the BBC report on events that took place at the Prime Minister’s House on the night of Imran Khan's ouster from power, Maj Gen Babar said that it is a "false story" and nothing but a pack of lies". 

"The Army has nothing to do with the political process that took place a few days back in the country," he iterated. "Do not drag the army into political matters."

When asked about the alleged "threat letter", DG ISPR said that the military leadership’s point of view was clear after the NSC meeting.

When asked if the word “conspiracy” was written in the NSC statement, DG ISPR said: “I don’t think so,” as he essentially denied the former government’s claims of a foreign conspiracy against former PM Imran Khan.

When asked if the COAS or his representative had met the then Opposition leaders outside the country, he rubbished the reports as baseless. 

“The Army chief is neither seeking extension nor believes in accepting of extension no matter what. He will be retiring on November 29, 2022," he said. 

On the ongoing propaganda against the security forces, the DG ISPR said that the concerned departments of the government were taking action against it and maintained that they have also traced foreign linkages during the probe into the malicious campaign. 

"We have collected data around the malicious campaign against institutions. The campaigns started locally and have expanded globally. We will share our analysis in the coming days."

He also urged the people to avoid sharing such reports without confirming them.

Replying to another question about the language being used for the COAS in certain public meetings, the military’s spokesperson requested the people to avoid using inappropriate words for the institution and its leadership. “It is not beneficial for anyone,” he added. 

Maj Gen Babar underscored the need for coordinated measures to isolate the society from the effects of the propaganda at the government and individual levels. 

The army is one of the main targets of this disinformation campaign, he admitted.

When asked a question about the absence of the army chief in the oath-taking ceremony of Shahbaz Sharif as PM, Maj Gen Babar said that he was not well on that day.

Speaking about the new elections, the military’s spokesperson said that the government and the politicians will decide that, adding, “nobody can suggest anything to them.”