Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. — File Photo
Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. — File Photo

‘We must not harbour any doubts’ about May 11 elections: It is Pakistan’s war, says Kayani

ISLAMABAD: Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani used the occasion of ‘Youm-i-Shuhada’ (martyrs’ day) to send more than one message to more than one audience.

Assuring everyone that the elections would be held on May 11, he tried to dispel the ever-circulating rumours about the postponement of elections.

He also made it clear that the war the army was fighting was Pakistan’s war and that the anti-democratic forces would never be acceptable, sending a message to all those watching the country’s battle with extremism and militants. And last but not least, he also indirectly expressed the military’s reservations about the treatment being meted out to his predecessor retired Gen Pervez Musharraf.

“Allah willing, general elections will be held in the country on 11th of May. We must not harbour any doubts or misgivings about it,” the army chief said while addressing a ceremony at the GHQ to mark the day.

“I assure you that we stand committed to wholeheartedly assist and support in the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections; to the best of our capabilities and remaining within the confines of the constitution. I also assure you that this support shall solely be aimed at strengthening democracy and rule of law in the country,” he said.

Like every Pakistani, he said, Pakistan Army in its humble capacity, had endeavoured to strengthen democracy in the past five years with the hope that the next elections would steer the country towards betterment.

“Now, once the destination is in sight we must not err in accomplishing our responsibilities towards the election process. We must never forget that success of any system resides in coming up to the aspirations of the masses. The success of democracy is intimately linked with the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation. The real virtue of democracy ultimately lies in the safety and welfare of the masses,” he said.

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: He termed the next elections “a golden opportunity” for the people that “can usher in an era of true democratic values in the country”.

In his indirect reference to the ongoing trial of former military ruler Musharraf, the army chief said: “In my opinion, it is not merely retribution, but awareness and participation of the masses that can truly end this game of hide and seek between democracy and dictatorship.”

Gen Kayani was of the view that if they succeeded in rising above all ethnic, linguistic and sectarian biases to vote solely on the basis of honesty, sincerity, merit and competence, “there would be no reason to fear dictatorship or to grudge the inadequacies of our present democratic system”.

“Our salvation resides in transforming the government into a true platform of public representation. This would come to pass once the construct of public representation in Pakistan is oriented towards affording primacy and precedence to larger public interest over personal interests. Otherwise, may it be democracy or dictatorship; governance would continue to remain a means of self-aggrandisement and that of plundering national wealth and resources,” he said.

According to the army chief, the conduct of elections is not an end in itself, “but is surely an important means towards delivering us from our present sufferings”.

He regretted that despite tremendous sacrifices, the dream of founding fathers under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam and Allama Iqbal was yet to be realised. “Perhaps, we have either not discovered the correct path or have not remained steadfast in our journey. Yet the spirit of sacrifice and resilience of our nation remains undiminished.”

‘WAR ON TERROR’: Blaming “external enemies” for the menace of terrorism and extremism that had claimed thousands of lives in the country, the army chief criticised those busy in debating the causes and origin of the ‘war on terror’ — an apparent reference to certain political and religious groups accusing Gen Musharraf of bringing this war to the country’s soil.

“We cannot afford to confuse our soldiers and weaken their resolve with such misgivings,” he said, adding: “Considering this war against terrorism as the war of the armed forces alone can lead to chaos and disarray that we cannot afford.”He said the fact of the matter was that today it was Pakistan and its valiant people who were a target of this war and were suffering tremendously.

“I would like to ask all those who raise such questions that if a small faction wants to enforce its distorted ideology over the entire nation by taking up arms and for this purpose defies the Constitution of Pakistan and the democratic process and considers all forms of bloodshed justified, then does the fight against this enemy of the state constitute someone else’s war?”, he asked.

According to the COAS, even in the history of the best evolved democratic states, treason or seditious uprisings against the state have never been tolerated and in such struggles their armed forces have had unflinching support of the masses; questions about the ownership of such wars have never been raised.

Gen Kayani expressed the desire that all those who had “strayed and have picked up arms against the nation, return to the national fold”.

However, he said, this was only possible once “they unconditionally submit to the state, its constitution and the rule of law. There is no room for doubts when it comes to dealing with rebellion against the state.”

The army chief said the “nefarious designs of our enemy, may it be internal or external, will never succeed and we shall eventually prevail.”

He paid tribute to the 140 soldiers and officers who lost their lives in an avalanche in Gayari sector.

The event honoured the personnel of armed forces and police and the civilians killed by the terrorists and extremists.

Apart from the parents of martyred servicemen, sons of SP Syed Abdul Kalam and ANP leader Bashir Ahmed Bilour, who were killed in suicide attacks, and the children of slain journalist Nasrullah Khan Afridi also spoke.

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Comments (18) (Closed)


ishrat salim
May 01, 2013 10:47am

General Sb...tusi great ho.....

Amit
May 01, 2013 11:05am

Good to see for a change Pakistan military speaking in favor of Democracy. I hope they have realized from the past that it is the best interest for the country to have Democracy.

Ahsan Malik
May 01, 2013 11:34am

Dear General Sahib

When you ask "... does the fight against this enemy of the state constitute someone else’s war?"

then I say

"what part of this war is our war when the details of how to fight, whom to fight, financing of the fight and deciding on the acceptability of outcomes of the fight are all not decided by us? The day we make these decisions then that day it becomes our war - till then its the war of those who steer these decisions"

Comprende sire?

Akhter Husain
May 01, 2013 11:38am

Strangely enough,the COAS had to say what one would have otherwise expected from the so called political and religious LEADERS.He has also rightly pointed out the fact that the war is ours,for it is not hurting any other country but only Pakistan.The rebels can be talk to only when they accept law and constitution of Pakistan.There should never be any surrendering attitude shown to the rebels.His advice that the debate of democracy and dictatorship must end as it has not resolved our problems.Are there people listening him?

malik
May 01, 2013 11:51am

Really? When are we going to fight it?

Imran AB
May 01, 2013 12:08pm

Imran Khan should be listening to this speech and hopefully realize that this is 'Pakistan's war' and not just 'American'...... When Pakistanis kill Pakistanis .... where does America come in ???

Sal
May 01, 2013 12:59pm

"self-aggrandisement and that of plundering national wealth and resources," How ironic. That the military consider what it does as its obligations, but what others do as corruption.

Dr. K. Shankar
May 01, 2013 01:00pm

The army will not allow Pakistan to return to democracy.

Abid Mahmud Ansari,
May 01, 2013 01:51pm

COAS is quite convincing in his arguments. I think this war became "our war",the day the lawless NWA people gave shelter to "foreign fighters" from Afghanistan, and started their terrorist activities to impose their version or distorted version of Islam,( Taught in their madrassa). Having glimpsed their version in Swat, NWA and in Afghanistan,I am sure,these people will never ever implement Islam in its true form,because that doesn't suite their way of life and many of their tribal traditions are clearly against the tenants of Islam. So we have to fight this menace till these foreign fighters leave the country and NWA comes into the fold.

izhar
May 01, 2013 03:21pm

Speech of COAS reflects devotion and patriotism for the country. Pakistan is going through a tough n difficult spell. He has truly emphasized that war army if fighting since last one decade is our . Let's admit it if those who does not agree should not propogatte their immatture opinion. Donot give feeling to matryr's families that their loves have been wasted.please donot do this. Atms forces have always love pakistan and will remain standing firmly againt any internal or external intrusion. Pakistan zindabad.

I. Kamal
May 01, 2013 06:55pm

In the last paragraph of this article, Gen Keyani has answered those accusing Gen (R) over the Last Masjid Incident; In the fourth last paragraph he he has answered those accusing Gen(R) Musharraf for fighting America'sWar on Terror. Pak Afwaaj Zindabad!

JAMEEL
May 01, 2013 07:28pm

Dear Sir, Unfortunately this wasn't our war at all. But it has become now reather for the last 10 years. With US forces invading Afghanistan Pak Army supported US Army due as per decision of Mr. Musharaff and thus we were engulfed in series of law and order problems in our country.

So in nutshell US war became pakistan's war.

Siddique Malik
May 01, 2013 08:17pm

When the army chief of a country assures its people that elections will be held, it speaks volumes about the dismal state of democracy in that country. The other day he was acting more like a "Maulana" Kayani than a general, when he tried to patronize religious bigots by pretending to be a champion of mixing religion with state. Where does that leave non-Muslim minorities? Why is he, as the army chief, making political statements?
Siddique Malik, Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

Sardar KHAN
May 01, 2013 10:00pm

He is right.We should look to the feuture instead the past.If we carried on looking in the past,we will be stuck and will damage the country irrecovable harm.We must learn from our past mistakes and carry on,like a nation going forward and not stuck in the past.Allah SWT. help us in our goals of making our country great and prosperous.

Ali
May 01, 2013 11:30pm

Sad, wish we had a truly visionary army chief. This nation is damn unlucky

Mustafa
May 01, 2013 11:46pm

Excellent speech by Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, a true Pakistani of Jinnah's Pakistan. May Allah reward him.

Afzal Guru
May 02, 2013 07:47am

You reap what you sow

skeptic
May 02, 2013 11:50pm

which one,there are too many to count