- Military's media wing says Peshawar Corps is an illustrious formation of the Pakistan Army spearheading the national war against terrorism for over two decades
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Thursday took exception to "imprudent comments made by important senior politicians" recently about Corps Commander Peshawar, stating that such remarks were "very inappropriate" and that they undermine the honour and morale of the institution and its leadership.
While the statement from the military's media affairs wing did not mention any politician in particular, it comes after former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari made a remark about Peshawar Corps Commander Lt General Faiz Hameed.
Zardari, at the end of his press conference in Karachi on Wednesday, had said that Lt Gen Faiz Hameed has been sidelined after being given charge of Peshawar Corp. However, the veteran politician later issued a clarification that he had "unintentionally" uttered the sentence.
In its press release, ISPR noted that "Peshawar Corps is an illustrious formation of the Pakistan Army spearheading the national war against terrorism for over two decades".
"One of the most competent and professional officers is entrusted with the responsibility to lead this prestigious formation," the ISPR added.
"It is expected that the senior political leadership of [the] country refrains from passing objectionable remarks against the institution, whose brave officers and men are constantly putting their lives on the line to guard the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan," the statement concluded.
Last week, ISPR said that the Army had also taken a "strong exception" to "intensified and deliberate attempts" to drag its name into the country's ongoing political discourse by "some political leaders, journalists, and analysts."
The military's media wing noted that attempts to involve the armed forces and its senior leadership in the political discourse were "manifest through direct, insinuated or nuanced references made by some political leaders, few journalists and analysts on public forums and various communication platforms, including social media".
"This practice of unsubstantiated, defamatory, and provocative statements/remarks is extremely damaging," the ISPR said.
It added that the military takes strong exception to such "unlawful and unethical practices" and expects everyone to abide by the law and keep the armed forces out of political discourse in the "best interest of the country".
These back-to-back statements come after weeks of heightened political activity in the country, involving the issue of the former prime minister Imran Khan's removal from power.
Khan, who is also chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has claimed that he was removed from power due to an international conspiracy that had the support of local politicians.
In its response, the military had dismissed Khan's accusation that the United States had conspired to topple him in a parliamentary vote of confidence.
"You can see clearly whether there's any word of conspiracy in that statement. I don't think so," the military's spokesman, Major General Babar Iftikhar, told a news conference in reference to an NSC statement that had expressed concern over the non-diplomatic language used in a cable from a "foreign country", widely assumed to mean the United States, about the no-confidence vote.
Major Gen Iftikhar also denied Khan's assertion that the army chief of staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, had offered to help mediate in his deadlock with the opposition. Instead, he said, Khan had asked Bajwa to convey to the opposition on his behalf that he would call snap elections if the no-confidence motion was withdrawn.
"(Bajwa) went to the opposition and placed this request in front of them, and after a detailed discussion they said that they wouldn't take any such step, and that 'we will go on as we have planned'," said Iftikhar.
He also clarified that the United States had never asked for military bases in Pakistan after U.S.-led forces' withdrawal from Afghanistan last August. Khan's party had said that Washington turned against him after he said "absolutely not" in a TV interview in response to a question about whether he would give the bases to the Americans.