ISLAMABAD: The Army on Wednesday dismissed media conjecturing about the ‘Bajwa doctrine’ as incorrect and emphasised that it was only a security concept that had nothing to do with political and constitutional matters.

“If there is a Bajwa doctrine, it is a security-centric concept, whose objective is to improve the security situation in the country to a point desired by civilians and those in uniform alike. … This doctrine should therefore be seen within the security parameters,” military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor said at a media briefing.

He was speaking about the media discussion that began after Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa’s interaction with a group of TV talk show hosts. A number of articles appeared in newspapers after the meeting that was planned to be a background session, but one of the journalists in his article claimed that a new doctrine was in place and its various facets included political and financial elements besides international vision, a counterterrorism strategy and a vision for military command.

This led to another round of media speculation. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan too lately weighed in on the public debate on the doctrine.

It’s a security concept having nothing to do with 18th Amendment or judiciary, explains military spokesman

“Everything was lumped together and presented as the Bajwa doctrine,” Gen Ghafoor regretted.

The Bajwa doctrine originally came into public view in January and included concepts like peaceful borders, weapon-free society, terror-free country and rule of law.

Explaining the concept of the army chief’s doctrine, the military spokesman said that every army chief had a position on issues and gave his guideline for handling them. Gen Bajwa, he said, wanted a peaceful Pakistan and that was his doctrine.

“There is no mention of 18th Amendment in it, nor is there any reference to the judiciary,” he maintained.

Gen Ghafoor praised the 18th Amendment for streng­thening provinces through devolution of power and decentralisation of authority. He clarified that the army chief never spoke against the amendment in total.

He said the military’s primary concern was security and it wanted the capacity of civilian law enforcement agencies to be enhanced.

Law and order has been devolved to the provinces after the enactment of the 18th Amendment and it is believed that this area has suffered due to inadequate resources and politicisation of police has intensified.

Deployment of troops

Speaking about the deployment of troops in Saudi Arabia, Gen Ghafoor said it was being done under a 1982 bilateral accord and in view of Saudi Arabia’s growing internal security challenges.

He categorically denied that the fresh deployment was for the Islamic Military Counter-Terrorism Coalition (IMCTC). “The troops would remain within the borders of the kingdom on advisory and training mission,” he underscored.

“The deployment is neither against Iran nor Yemen and the deployed troops would operate within the geographical boundaries of Saudi Arabia,” he added.

Replying to a question about the concern raised by Iran’s former foreign minister Kamal Kharazi at a seminar in Islamabad about the IMCTC, which is led by former army chief retired Gen Raheel Sharif, Gen Ghafoor said: “Pakistan would not kinetically become part of any arrangement that is against another country.” He recalled that the IMCTC was still in evolution phase.

The spokesman said fresh troops had not left Pakistan yet and the two countries were finalising the “coordination issues”. He further said there was no agreement on the size of the deployment. This, he said, would depend on the “Saudi requirement and our capacity”.

Intelligence agencies

Defending the role of intelligence agencies, the Inter-Services Public Relations chief credited the improved security situation to them.

“Had it not been their hard work, we would not have been able to secure peace. Intelligence agencies are the first line of defence against security threats,” he said while apparently responding to the criticism of intelligence outfits’ actions, particularly relating to some of the recent political developments and missing persons.

He contended that the criticism of intelligence agencies was because they had been obstructing the designs of the enemies.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2018