- Gen Bajwa vows Pakistan Army will continue to serve and protect the country
ISLAMABAD: General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday vowed that the Pakistan Army will continue to serve and protect the country.
During his last public address as the army chief that he delivered at the Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony, Gen Bajwa, once again, said that the military has decided that it would never interfere in any political matter.
“I assure you we are strictly adamant on this and will remain so,” he added. The ceremony is held annually at the General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi on September 6 to commemorate the sacrifices of fallen heroes of the 1965 war. However, it was postponed this year in solidarity with the flood-affected people across the country and rescheduled for yesterday.
Gen Bajwa also discussed the army’s performance and actions in the then East Pakistan.
“I want to correct some facts here. Firstly, former East Pakistan [debacle] was a political failure and not a military one,” he said.
He said the number of soldiers fighting was not 92,000 but 34,000 and 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”.
He also applauded the sacrifices of these heroes. “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,” Gen Bajwa added.
He criticised the anti-military narrative and urged political stakeholders to avoid labeling each other as “imported” and “selected” so that the country can move forward.
“Today, I am addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day as the army chief for the last time,” Gen Bajwa said at the start of his speech. “I am retiring soon. This time, this [ceremony is being held] after some delay.”
Gen Bajwa is set to retire on November 29. “I, sometimes, 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,” Gen Bajwa said.
“On the other hand, our army which day and night remains busy in serving the nation, is often made the subject of criticism,” he added.
He said that the reason for the criticism is the army’s interference in politics for the last 70 years, which is unconstitutional.
“This is why in February last year the army, after great deliberation, decided that it would never interfere in any political matter,” he said.
While talking about the anti-army narrative, he 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.”
Criticising the army is the right of the people and the political parties but foul language must not be used, he maintained.
Gen Bajwa said that a “false narrative was created”, from which “an escape is now being attempted”.
He said the army had initiated its process of “catharsis” and expected that political parties would follow suit and will look into their behaviour. “This is the reality that there have been mistakes from every institution, including political parties and civil society,” he added.
Gen Bajwa said it is important to learn from such mistakes so the nation can move on.
He also urged the political stakeholders to set aside the egos and move forward for the betterment of the country.
Gen Bajwa said the country was facing “serious economic” issues and no one party could take the country out of the financial crisis.
He stressed the need for the nation to shed intolerance and adopt a “true democratic culture”.
He said when one party came as a result of the general elections 2018, others started calling it “selected” and when the vote of no-confidence came and the other party formed the government they were described of “imported”.
Gen Bajwa rued the political parties’ criticism, first after the 2018 general elections and then again following the successful of no-confidence vote this year, recalling that whoever lost branded the other as either as “selected” or “imported”.
“We need to reject this behaviour,” he said, adding that “victory and defeat are part of politics and every party will have to develop the strength to accept its victory as well as defeat so an elected government comes in the next election instead of an “imported” or “selected” one.”
The COAS lauded the sacrifices of martyrs and praised their families.
During the event, a video showcasing the military’s rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts during the recent catastrophic floods in the country was played.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022