General Qamar Javed Bajwa addressed the Youm e Shuhada Pakistan (Martyrs’ Day) for the last time as the country’s army chief, addressing a range of controversies that have emerged in recent days.
General Bajwa said that politicians blamed the election commission’s Result Transmission System (RTS) and the Army after losing the polls in 2018, and the winning party was called “selected".
He admitted to the army’s involvement in politics but said it’s unconstitutional and “now we have decided not to intervene".
Gen Bajwa targeted former prime minister Imran Khan by saying, “A state of distress was created by creating a fake and false narrative. It is a big sin if there is a foreign conspiracy and the army remains silent. The army has decided not to interfere in political matters. Pakistan army’s interference in politics is unconstitutional.”
Many sectors subjected the army to criticism and used inappropriate language, he said. “Someone called us imported and some selected. We welcome constructive criticism but not disrespect. Everything has limits," he said.
To criticise the army is the right of political parties and the people, but the language used should be careful, said Bajwa.
The outgoing army chief asked, “Do you think there is an external conspiracy in the country and the army is sitting silent? I want to forgive the aggressive behaviour against myself and the army and move forward…Lessons should be learnt and move forward.”
Pakistan is suffering from a serious economic crisis and no single party can solve these problems, he said. The time has come for the stakeholders to learn from the mistakes of the past and move forward, added Bajwa, maintaining that a truly democratic culture should be adopted in Pakistan.
“I am addressing as the army chief for the last time, as I am retiring soon," he said.
Bajwa said that armies around the world are seldom criticised, “but our army is often subjected to criticism".
“I think the reason for that is the army’s involvement in politics. That is why in February, the army decided to not interfere in politics,” he said. “The army has started its catharsis, and I hope political parties will also reflect on their behaviour.”
Bajwa said that victory and defeat are part of politics, and every party has to accept its defeat and victory. “Parties and people come and go, but only Pakistan remains important for us."
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