ISLAMABAD - Linking the military’s support to strengthening the democratic process with mutual trust between the state institutions, Pakistan’s military chief has warned that insult and clash of institutions could weaken the country.
“It is essential that military command keep playing its role for strengthening democracy in Pakistan but it would only be possible with enhancing mutual trust between the state institutions,” Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said while addressing a cadets passing out ceremony in Abbottabad Saturday.
“The relationship between the state institutions is not exemplary anywhere (in the world). It is marked with mistakes, the way they’ve been made in Pakistan. The society has a pivotal role to identify these mistakes through constructive criticism but insulting the institutions in the name of criticism only ends up weakening the country,” he said. “Due criticism is justified but insulting (the institutions) should always be avoided,” General Kayani said.
General Kayani’s statement came conspicuously a day after the Supreme Court had served contempt notice to Defence Secretary Lieutenant General (r) Asif Yasin Malik, one of Kayani’s trusted aides and a former corps commander, for not complying with the court orders and resorting to delaying tactics in conducting the local government elections in the cantonment boards.
The COAS had made a similar kind of statement in November last year at the time when cases were pending in the SC against nine retired generals: Aslam Beg, Asad Durrani, Javed Ashraf Qazi, Naeem Khalid Lodhi, Afzal Muzzaffar, Saeeduz Zafar, Hamid Hassan Butt, Khalid Zaheer Akhtar and Khalid Munir Khan.
“No individual or institution has the monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest,” he had said while addressing a group of officers at the General Headquarters (GHQ) on November 5, 2012.
In his Saturday’s address, the outgoing military chief spoke his mind on the issues concerning Pakistan’s internal socio-political dynamics including the relationship between state institutions, democracy, terrorism and military’s role in the contemporary era. “The country has suffered a lot due to imbalance and lack of coordination between institutions. And we can’t afford any more losses. The mutual trust in civil-military relation is particularly essential for achieving the national objectives.”
Putting his weight behind the political leadership in the contemplated ‘peace process’ with the terrorists, General Kayani dismissed the notion that military operations’ failure had forced the state to seek dialogue with the militants. “We should remember those days when armed gangs were just a hundred kilometres from Islamabad. When Mingora’s Sabz Chowk used to be known as ‘Bloody Chowk. When infrastructure and the entire society had gone in the hands of criminal gangs who thought they were this country’s custodians,” he referred to the living conditions in Swat and Malakand Division in 2009 before army operation Raah-e-Raast eliminated the militancy.
“Terrorism is a big challenge for us and the national leadership has opted to give dialogue process a chance to tackle it. Pakistan Army supports this initiative. The political leadership is to determine future course of action in this regard. But it’s very important that this process brings unity and not division among the nation,” the general impliedly referred to political divide on using force in the terror-plagued north-western belt in the wake of some ‘Taliban-friendly’ parties opposing military action despite massive bloodshed in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to recent terror attacks.
“The use of force is a last option but if required, Pakistan Army is fully capable of doing that.” Apart from Swat and Malakand, Kayani mentioned of military operations in South Waziristan, Orakzai, Mohmand, Bajaur and Khyber (Tirah Valley) agencies and Upper and Lower Dir districts, where, he claimed, military action was a success.
Speaking high of the military men, especially those who laid down their lives in the line of duty, the army chief said, “Martyrdom, the ultimate sacrifice, is priceless. We are far ahead of the other civilised societies who reward their martyrs with reverence, honour and respect. Our soldiers and officers are free of mental stress because they are very clear about their mission. There is a notable trend of suicides among the war-returnee soldiers of the developed countries. There is not a single such example in Pakistan.”
Kayani had all praises for the smooth delegation of political power through this year’s general elections, saying maximum number of Pakistanis, after 1970 elections, exercised the right to franchise in Pakistan’s history in this year’s general polls. “Today we leave behind our bitter past and move on. Today, we proudly say that our elected leadership decides the nation’s fate.”
The outgoing military man, however, admitted that mistakes were made in the past that adversely impacted Pakistan. “We could have been ahead of where we actually are, now.” In his message to the passing out cadets, General Ashfaq Kayani urged the young officers to “dream to rise because ambitions get the life going.”