Army’s ‘political quarantine’ will bode well for Pakistan: Bajwa

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COAS retire

 

Outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said the Pakistan Army would implement its decision and remain determined to remain apolitical despite “negative propaganda” and “misleading narrative”.

“The armed forces have always played its role in overcoming internal conflicts and that the forces also maintained balance in the international politics through military diplomacy,” he said while giving an interview to Gulf News.

He was of the view Outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said the Pakistan Army would implement its decision and remain determined to remain apolitical despite “negative propaganda” and “misleading narrative”.

“The armed forces have always played its role in overcoming internal conflicts and that the forces also maintained balance in the international politics through military diplomacy,” he said while giving an interview to Gulf News.

He was of the view that some elements criticised the army for being apolitical, but this tradition [army of being apolitical] will help democracy prevail and flourish in [Pakistan] and promote political stability.

Gen Bajwa said the relations between the military and the people of Pakistan would also further improve after the Pakistan Army becomes apolitical.

He said the armed forces had to face severe criticism over playing “role” in the country’s politics.

“Despite some criticism and undue vilification of the armed forces through mass propaganda and meticulously crafted false narratives, the institutional resolve to remain apolitical will remain steadfast. I am certain that this political quarantine of the armed forces will auger well for Pakistan in the long term by fostering political stability and strengthening the Army-to-people bond.”

“Our intimate engagements with the Arab countries at the leadership level have continuously helped nurture the long-standing ties and translate them into practical cooperation in areas of common interests.”

Bajwa said he foresaw a very robust and broad-based relationship with Arab brothers in future, which remained exclusive and independent of their bilateral relations with other countries.

The outgoing army chief said Pakistan’s western neighbour Iran’s peculiar geo-strategic orientation had been a source of concern for the international community; however, Pakistan has always desired peaceful and friendly relations with our Muslim neighbour and tried to maintain a positive working relationship.

On the internal front, he said, Pakistan’s successful counter-terrorism campaign had turned the tide of terrorism and “we continue to make meaningful efforts to overcome the menace of extremism and residue of terrorism”.

“Streaks of political intolerance in our society is a worrisome new trend; we will keep striving for a society which is tolerant, rational and does not discriminate on the basis of political orientation, faith, ethnicity or creed.”

General Qamar Javed Bajwa said he is certain that the “political quarantine of the armed forces” will bode well for Pakistan in the long term.

Elaborating further on the subject in his interview, Gen Bajwa said the Pakistan Army had always remained a dominant player in national decision-making.

Gen Bajwa went on to say that in his opinion, public support and affinity towards the armed forces tended to erode when the military was seen to be involved in political affairs.

Commenting on the current challenges Pakistan was confronting, Gen Bajwa first highlighted regional instability. “Pakistan is located in South Asia, where stability has remained elusive due to historical conflicts and unresolved disputes. Perpetual conflict and instability make it the least integrated region in the world despite huge economic potential and a large population.”

He stated that the region had been referred to as a “strategic chessboard” due to its role in great power rivalries in the past — the recent being the two decade-long ‘war on terror’.

“Pakistan’s western border has therefore seen a great deal of instability due to the conflict in Afghanistan. Post-US withdrawal, a modicum of stability has been seen in the country with a reduction in violence. However, the situation remains volatile.”

He also spoke about the “delicate position” Pakistan found itself amid “the ever-sharpening global power contestation” between the United States and China.

“We will keep striving for a society which is tolerant, rational and does not discriminate on the basis of political orientation, faith, ethnicity or creed,” he resolved.

Gen Bajwa also termed Pakistan’s “economic frailty” as a cause for concern, saying it tended to “exacerbate other issues concerning human security such as health, education, access to food and clean water, and mitigating threats posed by climate change”.

In reply to a question about ties between Pakistan and Middle Eastern counties, Gen Bajwa said the former had a special bond and fraternal ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council and other Middle Eastern countries, “which is deep-rooted in our strong religious, historical and cultural affinity”.

“Our traditional ties with brotherly Arab states transcend beyond any cost-benefit calculus,” he said, adding that Pakistan remained grateful to “our brethren for their generous and unconditional support to Pakistan, especially during testing times”.

Pakistan, on its part, had always supported the strategic interests of its Middle Eastern friends and would continue to do so in the future, he said.

He said the army had worked out plans to “effectively align ourselves with the requirements of [the] future battlefield, making the best use of our limited resources”.

“I foresee [the] Pakistan Army as a cohesive, agile, adaptive and a modern force, which can complement other elements of national power by maintaining a credible deterrent capability to help foster a secure environment for national development and socioeconomic well-being.”

To a question about endeavours taken under his leadership, Gen Bajwa mentioned Operation Raddul Fasaad, mainstreaming of tribal areas and initiatives for the uplift of underdeveloped areas.

The army chief continued, “The emancipation of people of border areas remains the top priority of Pakistan’s civil and military leadership.

“All these issues are closely intertwined and every step taken towards that direction remains close to my heart.”

In his message to the youth, the outgoing army chief again stressed the significance of people’s support for the army. “No nation is secure by virtue of its defence forces alone. While the armed forces of Pakistan are ready to sacrifice lives for the motherland, we cannot succeed without the support of our people, especially the large, dynamic and industrious youth of Pakistan, which constitutes around 60 per cent of our total population. He went on to urge the youth to devote their time and energy towards education and skill development. “Honest toil and selfless exertion are the basis of a progressive society.”