Positive admission…

But the COAS doesn’t say how the Army will follow up

Addressing, as he pointed out himself, the Martyrs Day ceremony for the last time before retiring on November 29, COAS Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said that the Pakistan Army was not going to interfere in politics any longer. He was addressing a Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony at GHQ, Rawalpindi on Wednesday, which had been postponed from September 6 in solidarity with the flood victims. His statement came in the light of the sequence of events starting earlier this year, with the moving of a vote of no-confidence against the PTI government, and followed by its ouster, and its building of an anti-Army narrative. He said that a “false narrative was created”, from which “an escape is now being attempted.” That was a reference to PTI chief Imran Khan’s recent U-turn on the USA, which he had earlier accused of conspiring to oust him.

General Bajwa noted that the 1971 War was a political defeat, not a military one. Even if that is conceded, it should be asked where the political leadership had come from since 1958. Merely looking at the history of the country since 2018 would not be sufficient. General Bajwa said the military was undergoing its catharsis, and called on political parties to do so too. However, he did not share any information about the process. This would not only enable informed criticism by the public (which General Bajwa conceded was its right), but might give pointers to other stakeholders about what needs to be done. General Bajwa did not mention the late Benazir Bhutto, but his remarks were a reminder of her Truth and Reconciliation Commission proposal.

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There should be a recognition of the fact that martial law has been imposed four times. The establishment stands accused of having propped up a government which could not survive without support. That party has now won much popularity by taking the line that the establishment was part of the conspiracy against it. It is to be hoped that the right lessons are learnt, that interfering in the constitutional process does not work. General Bajwa leaves to his successor the task of restoring the Army’s reputation, and reducing the criticism it faces for past interference. Whoever that officer might be, the only guideline he would have would be the Constitution.

The Editorial Department of Pakistan Today can be contacted at: [email protected]


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