ISLAMABAD: Senators termed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s briefing as a historic day for democracy and civil-military relations.
On Tuesday, General Bajwa briefed the Senate Committee of the Whole House on national security matters.
The committee session, which lasted over four hours, was also attended by ISPR DG Major General Asif Ghafoor, ISI DG Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar and Military Operations DG Major General Sahir Shamshad Mirza.
Senator Mushahid Hussain said that the briefing was a “historic day for democracy and civil-military relations in Pakistan”. He added that it was the first time that such an open and detailed briefing was given to the upper house of parliament.
“Everyone is very satisfied with army chief’s briefing. This is a very good thing for civil-military relations as the confusion created by the current situation has been cleared,” said the senator.
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and Senator Farooq Naek also praised the briefing given by the army chief, saying that this was the first time that such a detailed briefing was given, which lasted for five hours. He added that all senators presented questions which were answered by the army chief in detail.
The senator further said that the ISI DG had accompanied General Bajwa and he “intelligently interjected wherever there was a need”. Naek added that he felt that the discussion was held in a pleasant atmosphere and a lot of things were cleared.
Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senator Pervaiz Rasheed, commenting on General Bajwa’s briefing to the Senate, said that ‘both sides’ talked ‘very openly’, asked questions, and presented their stance. “The best part about the briefing was that a state institution believes it is answerable to the public’s elected representatives, and it responded to the questions that public representatives asked,” he added.
“This is a good precedent in Pakistan, and it will reaffirm public’s belief in democracy,” the senator said. “It will portray Pakistan’s image as a civil society and a democratic country where all leaders of state institutions hold themselves accountable to public representatives,” he added.
PML-N Senator Asif Kirmani said that the ‘informative briefing’ was a very important step by the Senate as well as the army.
“It was the first time in the Senate’s parliamentary history that the COAS gave a briefing to the house,” Kirmani said. “The briefing has clearly made us more aware of matters and helped us with understanding matters pertaining to national security,” he added.
PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi told the media that the briefing had ‘clarified many things’.
“The army chief said that there is no room for a presidential system because not only does it weaken a country, it also gives way to dangerous polarization,” he said, adding that General Bajwa said that the army was ‘subservient’ and ‘answerable to the public’, and the institution has to act according to the law.
“He [COAS] said that forming defence and foreign office policies are the jobs of lawmakers, and [when pertinent] implementation and accountability is the army’s job,” Hashmi said.
The senator further stated that General Bajwa refuted rumours of the army lending any support to the protesters during the recent Faizabad sit-in.
“The army chief said that he will resign if it is proven that the army was supporting the Faizabad sit-in,” Hashmi said. “The point that he stressed the most was that there should only be one Pakistan,” he added.