But General Qamar Javed Bajwa reveals that the country’s most powerful institution has decided to stay out of politics.
Pakistan’s outgoing army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, says the military has meddled illegally in politics for decades and will no longer do so.
In his last speech as army chief, Bajwa on Wednesday defended the country’s most powerful institution, which has come under fire, notably from former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who accused the army of involvement in his ouster in April.
Speaking at an event at the army headquarters in the eastern city of Rawalpindi, the 62-year-old general wondered why the army in neighboring India was not criticized by the public.
“In my opinion, the reason for this is the constant meddling of the military in politics for the last 70 years, which is unconstitutional,” he said. “That is why, since February of last year, the military has decided that they are not going to interfere in any political matter.”
He added that the military has begun its “catharsis” and expressed the hope that the political parties would also “introspect their behavior.”
“The reality is that in Pakistan, the institutions, the political parties and the civil society have all made mistakes,” Bajwa said. “It is time that we learn from them and move forward.”
Bajwa highlighted Pakistan’s precarious economic situation and called on all stakeholders to put their egos aside, work together and learn to accept their victories and losses.
The 62-year-old general has led the 600,000-strong nuclear-armed army since 2016. He was granted a three-year extension by then-Prime Minister Khan in August 2019. He is set to retire on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is expected to announce his successor in the coming days.
In a speech that lasted about 10 minutes, Bajwa devoted considerable time to the subject of politics, condemning the spate of negativity and harsh criticism of the military, which has run the country for more than half the time since its independence in 1947.
The military has significant interests in the economy and wields considerable influence in deciding the South Asian country’s policy on foreign affairs and National security. No prime minister has ever completed his term.
Bajwa admitted that criticism of the military by political parties and the public is his right, but warned against using undignified words against the military.
“Everyone should keep in mind that there are limits to this patience,” he said. “I want to ignore this aggressive criticism of me and my army because Pakistan is the most important thing for all of us.”