ISLAMABAD: In a powerful message, ostensibly aimed at the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other anti-state actors, Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif warned that all groups must accept the writ of the state, failing which, the army was more than capable of dealing with threats from insurgents.

Speaking at a ceremony held to mark Martyrs’ Day at the General Headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi on Wednesday, Gen Sharif said the army supported all efforts to eliminate the threat of terrorism and restore peace in the country.

At the outset, the army chief stated, “Today, we as a nation are faced with a war in which all institutions of the state are fighting alongside the armed forces. The armed forces stand for peace, but we are always ready to respond to any acts of aggression.”

Describing the support of the people of Pakistan as the main driving force behind all actions of the armed forces, he said that if the people stood behind them, the army was ready to make any and all sacrifices necessary.

Calling Kashmir “the jugular vein of Pakistan”, Gen Sharif stressed the need to settle the dispute in accordance with the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. This, the army chief insisted, was essential to ensuring lasting peace in the region.

Reaffirming the armed for­ces’ commitment to ensuring the stability of democracy and supremacy of the constitution, he said: “This is the only way to cement our place among the developed nations.” Gen Sharif also lauded the efforts of the media and civil society towards the greater goal of nation-building.

“The media has played a key role in rallying public opinion on matters of national security. We support the freedom of the press and responsible jou­rnalism and appreciate (journalists’) sacrifices,” he said.

He paid tributes to soldiers of the armed forces, Rangers, the Frontier Corps, Frontier Constabulary, police and Levies as well as citizens who had laid down their lives in the service of their country.