Army to preserve its dignity, says COAS

Published April 8, 2014
TARBELA: COAS Gen Raheel Sharif during his visit to the headquarters of the Special Services Group at Ghazi Base on Monday.
TARBELA: COAS Gen Raheel Sharif during his visit to the headquarters of the Special Services Group at Ghazi Base on Monday.

ISLAMABAD: Finally breaking its silence on the issue of high treason trial of retired Gen Pervez Musharraf, the army on Monday came out in what appeared to be support of its former chief and warned critics against undermining military’s institutional morale.

“Pakistan Army upholds the sanctity of all institutions and will resolutely preserve its own dignity and institutional pride,” Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif said while speaking to Special Service Group (SSG) commandos at Ghazi Base near Tarbela.

The army chief’s extraordinarily hard-hitting statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) did not directly link it to Musharraf’s trial, but some of the officers who had attended the Ghazi Base meeting, confirmed that discomfort within ranks over the issue formed the context of Gen Raheel’s comments.

While visiting the base, the home of SSG commandos, every other soldier that the army chief met expressed concern over the case, an officer disclosed and reminisced that Gen Musharraf belonged to the same group.

The ISPR statement noted that the army chief had made the remarks in response to “the concerns of soldiers on undue criticism of the institution (army) in recent days”.

Gen Raheel’s statement came a week after Musharraf was indicted by the Special Court on five counts of high treason, a charge that potentially carries death penalty.

It is quiet rare for the military to publicly express its ‘sentiments’ on a political matter and even its usual media statements on routine professional matters are sanitised to the extent that they are most of the times bereft of details. This has more so been the case under Gen Raheel.

But Monday’s media release was an exception.

The last time such a statement was made by an army chief was on Nov 5, 2012, when the then COAS Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had warned detractors of military against undermining the institution and behaving as the “sole arbiters” of national interest. Observations made by the Supreme Court in the Asghar Khan case about funding of politicians in the past by the ISI had formed the background of Gen Kayani’s outburst.

Gen Raheel was reportedly upset about the manner in which the discourse on Musharraf trial had digressed into army bashing and public humiliation of the former army chief. Statements by Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and Railways Minister Khwaja Saad Rafique on the treason case in particular were seen by the army as demeaning.

The army had been privately conveying its reservations to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, but decided to go public after it was felt that he was not paying heed to the concern, an insider claimed.

In his comments at the Ghazi Base, the army chief regretted the timing of the campaign to ‘malign the military as an institution’ and he noted that “country is faced with multiple internal and external challenges…”.

Underscoring the importance of public support for the army, Gen Raheel said: “Drawing its strength from national support, with its characteristic coherence and resilience, Pakistan Army has contributed immensely towards national security and nation building and will continue to deliver on its mission.”

Opinion

Editorial

Wayward ideology
02 Dec, 2022

Wayward ideology

Anyone who claims his legacy for themselves should not treat his words so whimsically.
Progressive stance
02 Dec, 2022

Progressive stance

THE timing of two encouraging developments in the fight against domestic violence in Pakistan could not have been...
China Covid protests
02 Dec, 2022

China Covid protests

PUBLIC protests are rare in China where the People’s Republic maintains order through a strict authoritarian code...
Punjab crisis
01 Dec, 2022

Punjab crisis

ADMINISTRATIVE chaos has ruled Punjab ever since the ouster of the PTI government in April, deepening the...
Quetta attack
01 Dec, 2022

Quetta attack

It would be foolishness of the highest order were the authorities to ignore the emerging threat.
World AIDS Day
01 Dec, 2022

World AIDS Day

AS countries mark World AIDS Day on Dec 1, a timely report from Unicef has renewed concerns about the severe...