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Pakistan

COAS is not seeking extension, will retire in November: DG ISPR

  • During press conference, Major General Babar Iftikhar says US has not even asked for bases and there has been no mention of it at any level
Published April 14, 2022

Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar said on Thursday that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa is neither seeking an extension nor will he accept one.

"COAS is neither seeking an extension nor will he accept any extension. He will retire on November 29, 2022," the DG ISPR said while addressing a press conference.

"This is character assassination without evidence," he said, dismissing rumours over the army chief's extension.

The DG ISPR also rubbished rumours on social media about the establishment meeting opposition parties, saying that "there was no truth to it".

"If someone has evidence, bring it forward. There were no such contacts, no deal ... For Gods' sake, there is nothing like this," Gen Iftikhar said.

A malicious campaign is being run against the army and its leadership. Any effort to create a rift between people and the armed forces is against national interest: DG ISPR

Former PM Imran Khan's claims

Answering a question over the army leadership's stance on former PM Imran Khan's claim of a foreign conspiracy to oust him and whether the National Security Committee (NSC) had endorsed such a claim, the DG ISPR said that the word "conspiracy" was not used in the statement issued after a meeting of the NSC last month.

Qureshi says ‘threat letter’ genuine

The military spokesperson further said that the minutes of the NSC meeting can be declassified if the government decides.

'Army has nothing to do with politics'

Meanwhile, the major general said that the armed forces of the country have "nothing to do with politics". He said that the institution has decided to remain apolitical in the future as well.

“A malicious campaign is being run against the army and its leadership. Any effort to create a rift between people and the armed forces is against national interest," Gen Iftikhar added.

He continued that even fake audio messages of different retired senior military officials are being created using technology to create a divide between the nation and armed forces.

"This is illegal, unethical and totally against national interest," the military spokesperson said.

He also urged the public and political parties to not drag the army into politics.

'No option from the establishment was given'

Meanwhile, the DG ISPR said that Khan had approached COAS to help find a solution to the political crisis. He said the army chief and DG ISI went to the Prime Minister's Office and three scenarios were discussed.

He revealed that one option was that the no-confidence motion should be held as it was, while the second was that the prime minister resigns.

The third option was that the no-confidence motion is retracted and the assemblies are dissolved, Gen Iftikhar said. He clarified that no option was given by the establishment.

Regarding a question over the courts opening on Saturday night before Khan was ousted through a no-trust vote, the DG ISPR replied that the "judiciary was free", adding that if something happened it was their decision.

'US did not even ask for bases'

On a question regarding former PM Khan’s claims on saying “absolutely not” to the United States over allowing it to use Pakistan’s military bases, the DG ISPR said that if bases were asked for the army "would have the same stance".

"If a demand like that would have been made, the army would have had the same stance as the PM did. But the reality is that they [US] did not even ask for bases and there was no mention of it at any level," he added.

His press conference comes after Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa presided over the 79th Formation Commanders’ Conference at GHQ, which was attended by corps commanders, principal staff officers, and all formation commanders of the Pakistan Army.

The participants were briefed on professional matters, national security challenges, and measures being undertaken to counter traditional and non-traditional threats.

Army huddle takes note of recent propaganda campaign against state institutions

As per the ISPR statement, the forum took note of the recent propaganda campaign by some quarters to malign Pakistan Army and create division between the institution and society.

“National security of Pakistan is sacrosanct. Pakistan Army has always stood by the state institutions to guard it and always will, without any compromise,” it added.

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