In last speech, Pakistan army chief slams critics for ‘anti-military narrative’

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s outgoing army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa Wednesday lashed out at the “anti-military narrative” of a section of the people and political establishment, wondering aloud why neighbour India’s military is “seldom the target” of similar criticism within the country despite its record of “human rights violations”.
In possibly his last public speech as chief of army staff before retiring on November 29, Gen Bajwa said, “Our army, which day and night serves the nation, is often made the subject of criticism. A major reason for this is the army’s interference in politics for the last 70 years, which is unconstitutional.”
The general claimed that under him, the army made a conscious decision to move away from that template. “This is why, in February last year, the army decided not to interfere in any political matter. I assure you we are adamant on this and will remain so,” he said.
Gen Bajwa rued 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”.
In a veiled reference to ex-PM Imran Khan, the army chief said a “fake and false narrative was concocted to instil a state of chaos in the country” and create “an escape route” from this.
Dismissing Imran’s claim about a “foreign conspiracy” behind the no-trust move that led to his ouster, Gen Bajwa said if a “regime-change operation” had indeed taken place at the behest of outside forces, the army wouldn’t have been idle.
“The Pakistan army has enough opportunities and resources to respond to such a propaganda, however, it showed courage in the country’s larger interest and refrained from making negative statements,” he said during the Defence and Martyrs’ Day ceremony at the army’s general headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Gen Bajwa said he wished “to move forward by keeping aside this inappropriate and offensive behaviour against me and the army”. He urged political stakeholders to set aside labels like “imported” (what the opposition calls the Shehbaz Sharif government) and “selected” (how the then opposition described the erstwhile Imran Khan government) for the country’s sake.

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