Army’s role in politics in unconstitutional: Gen Bajwa

Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday said military’s role in politics was unconstitutional and added that the army had decided last year that they would not get involved in politics.

Addressing a ceremony at GHQ Rawalpindi in connection with the on the Defence and Martyrs Day, he assured the people that the army was following the decision and would continue doing so in the future. Those thinking about dividing the nation and army would not succeed, he made it clear during his speech.

Gen Bajwa said a fake narrative was orchestrated and spread to create instability and confusion in the country. The no-confidence motion was constitutional process which should have been welcomed but instead the army was targeted over the issue, he said.

He mentioned that a “false narrative was created”, from which “an escape is now being attempted”, as called for promoting a democratic culture in Pakistan.

The army, Gen Bajwa 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.”

He lamented the fact 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.”

“To criticise the army is the right of [political] parties and the people, but the language used [should be careful],” he noted.

The army chief said that armies around the world were seldom criticised “but our army is often subjected to criticism”.

“I think reason for that is the army’s involvement in politics. That is why in February last, that the army decided to not interfere in politics,”

Shun the attitude of “I don’t accept”, he stressed and said it was impossible the army would remain silent amid any foreign conspiracy against the country. “In fact, it is big sin.”

“Today, I am addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day as the army chief for the last time,” Gen Bajwa, who is set to retire by the end of the month, said at the start of his speech. “I am retiring soon. This time, this [ceremony is being held] after some delay.”

Gen Bajwa said the country was facing “serious economic” issues and no one party could take the country out of the financial crisis.

“Political stability is mandatory and the time has come for all political stakeholders to set aside their ego, learn from past mistakes, move forward and take Pakistan out of this crisis.”

He stressed the need for the nation to shed intolerance and adopt a “true democratic culture”.

Gen Bajwa rued the political parties’ criticism, first after the 2018 general elections and then again following the successful vote of no confidence this year, recalling that whoever lost branded the other as either “selected” or “imported”.

“We need to reject this behaviour,” he said. “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.”

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