Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Thursday complained that Pakistanis had a "history of forgetting its [the nation's] heroes” while remarking that “just days after peace returned to Fata, people have started another movement.”
He made the remarks during a solemn ceremony held at General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi where he conferred awards on martyred military personnel for acts of gallantry during military operations.
“They [our martyrs] who sacrificed their lives for the country are our real heroes,” Gen Bajwa said towards the end of the ceremony, adding that as a nation "we should always remember their sacrifices".
A large number of military officials and the heirs of martyred personnel were in attendance.
During the ceremony, 32 officers were awarded the Sitara-i-Imtiaz (Star of Distinction), two officers were awarded the Tamgha-i-Jurat (Medal of Courage), 33 officers and soldiers were awarded the Tamgha-i-Basalat (Medal of Good Conduct), and four officers and soldiers were awarded a United Nations Medal.
The medals of martyred military personnel were received by their family members.
A day earlier, during a Corps Commanders' Conference, Gen Bajwa had stressed that for the peace and prosperity of Fata, it is imperative that the region is "mainstreamed" and merged with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa according to the wishes of its people.
The army chief's statements come in the wake of a major rally staged by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) on Sunday. One of PTM's demands is the restoration of routine life in Fata, which has been at the forefront of Pakistan's fight against terrorism.