–Gen Bajwa expresses concerns over emergence of PTM
LAHORE: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday lamented that Pakistanis as a nation had a history of forgetting their heroes, and mentioned that “just days after peace returned to Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), another movement was started ”.
He said this during a ceremony held at General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi where he conferred awards on military personnel for acts of gallantry during military operations.
“Our martyrs are our real heroes who sacrificed their lives for the country,” Bajwa said at the end of the ceremony and added that the nation should always remember their sacrifices.
The army chief’s statement came in the wake of a major rally staged by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) on Sunday. One of PTM’s demands is the restoration of routine life in FATA, which had been at the forefront of Pakistan’s fight against terrorism.
On Wednesday, during the Corps Commanders’ Conference, Gen Bajwa had stressed that for peace and prosperity of FATA, it was imperative that the region was “mainstreamed” and merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) according to the wishes of its people.
A large number of military officials and relatives of martyred personnel were in attendance at the ceremony.
During the ceremony, 32 officers were awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (military), two officers were awarded the Tamgha-i-Jurat, 33 officers and soldiers were awarded the Tamgha-i-Bisalat and four officers and soldiers were awarded the United Nations Medal.
The medals of the martyred military personnel were received by their family members.
‘THERE’S MUCH LEFT TO BE DONE’:
COAS said that lately the nation had passed through some very difficult times of fighting extremism and terrorism but still there was much left to be done.
The army chief interacted with notables of KP, including senators, lawmakers, businessmen, lawyers, academics and others in Peshawar on Thursday. He shared his candid thoughts about the security environment, achievements in war against terrorism, challenges and the way forward.
COAS Bajwa hailed the courage and resilience of the people of Pakistan, especially those of FATA and KP, who were the major victims of terrorism and said that the army fully supported socio-economic development in the affected areas. He urged the need to keep moving forward towards enduring peace and stability.
Talking about issues related to check posts and unexploded ordnance, the COAS said that measures to facilitate general public at check posts without compromising security and clearance of unexploded ordnance were already in process.
“No one is more interested than the security forces to have a peaceful and stable environment which allows their complete de-induction,” he said. “However, the threat still resides across the border and this is why we still need to move with caution,” he added.
The army chief said that notwithstanding the genuine problems of the peaceful citizens, Pakistan’s concern was that no anti-state agenda in the garb of engineered protests was aiming at reversing the gains achieved at the cost of blood. He said that the security of innocent citizens and the defence of the motherland were more important than anything else. He reiterated that the long term dividend of peace was linked to the earliest mainstreaming of FATA.
The audience also interacted with the COAS and expressed their views candidly. They acknowledged contributions and sacrifices of the security forces.
COAS Bajwa assured the notables that Pakistan Army, as part of state, was determined to root out extremism and terrorism on the premise that prerogative of use of force rested with the state alone.
“Our vision is a peaceful Pakistan and a peaceful region and our efforts are geared towards that end,” he said.
Peshawar corps commander and field commanders were also present on the occasion.