Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Monday that Pakistan's armed forces had all required capabilities to fight all external and internal threats, and traditional and non-traditional wars.
"If any enemy wants to fight us, it will find us ready at every moment and on every front," he said while addressing a Defence Day ceremony held at the General Headquarters.
He noted that Pakistani armed forces were counted among the world's best. "We have fought every enemy courageously and defeated all external and internal plots and above all, by achieving self-sustainability in defence capabilities, made the country's defence impenetrable," he said.
"We have no doubt that the relationship between Pakistan Army and the nation is the strong shield that has always defeated the enemy's plots and black-handed tactics against Pakistan and this unity has always made us persevere."
Whether it was the wars of 1965 and 1971, the Kargil fight or the war against terrorism, Pakistan's armed forces have proven in every situation that "we know how to defend our country in any condition and are ready to pay any price," Gen Bajwa said.
He paid tribute to the martyrs and their families, saying the entire nation was indebted to them.
"I assure you that the sacrifices of your loved ones will never be forgotten or wasted," he told the families.
Highlighting the importance of public support in military operations, the chief of army staff said without the people's cooperation, any army would prove to be a wall of sand "like we saw in our neighbouring country".
"This is why the army's success is dependent to a large extent on the people's support," he added.
'Some people being used by anti-state elements'
Gen Bajwa emphasised the changing nature of warfare, saying instead of large-scale war, modern technology and ways of communication and other tools were used to weaken a nation's unity and ideological boundaries, spread chaos in different sectors and demoralise the people.
"Our enemies are also using non-traditional means including propaganda and disinformation to achieve their nefarious objectives," he noted.
But while the state is aware of the plots of external enemies, "we will have to deal strictly with some internal elements spreading chaos," Gen Bajwa said.
"It is a moment of reflection for all of us that some people are being used by anti-state elements. This is called hybrid or fifth-generation war [in common language]. Its purpose is to make Pakistan's roots hollow and damage the country's unity. InshAllah, we will never let these negative objectives succeed."
In such a "difficult and complex" situation, he said, there was a need to further strengthen the relationship of mutual trust, love and fraternity between the Pakistan armed forces and the nation.
Gen Bajwa stressed that everyone should be aware of the reality that "there is no more room for any kind of extremism or violence on this land," and that no individual or group aside from the armed forces and law-enforcement agencies would be allowed to display weapons or use them.
Moreover, "no individual or group will be allowed to blackmail the state on the basis of area, ethnicity, ideology or religion," he said.
The army chief called upon the nation to work to make Pakistan "progressive, peaceful and a modern Islamic and welfare state".
"Pakistan's strength and preservation are in democracy. To make it more stable, we will have to follow the principles of following the Constitution, justice, tolerance and equality," he said, adding that "negative attitudes like criticism for the sake of criticism, hatred and intolerance" should be discouraged.
"If Pakistan has to progress, we will have to bury our ego and self-interest. [...] And according to [former] US president John F. Kennedy, 'Do not ask what the country can do for you, ask what you can do for the country.'"
Considering the needs of the 21st century, Gen Bajwa said, "We should work along the lines of people's progress and happiness, regional cooperation and acquiring modern technology instead of the negative traditional geopolitical thought against each other."
"I believe that education, health, infrastructure development, population control and climate change should be our priorities," he added.
'Expect an inclusive govt in Afghanistan'
On regional situation, the army chief said the armed forces were keeping a keen eye on developments in Afghanistan, where he said the situation provided an opportunity to establish peace and stability but at the same time it could also prove to be an indication of further difficulties and threats.
"We are desirous of the protection and progress of our Afghan neighbours and expect that the big powers of the region and the world, including the UN, will play a positive role for establishing peace in Afghanistan," he emphasised.
Expressing solidarity with the war-weary people of Afghanistan, Gen Bajwa said Pakistan's desire was to see the Afghan leadership "settle everything through discussion" and provide peace and happiness for their people.
"We also expect a stable and inclusive government to be formed in Afghanistan, human rights including women rights respected, [and] Afghan land not to be used against [any country]," he added, saying Pakistan also expected that the world would not leave the Afghan nation alone in this difficult time.
While talking about the eastern border, the army chief noted that "many critical moments" had come especially after 2019, "but Pakistan while showing patience and tolerance proved to be a responsible and peaceful state".
But he stressed that Pakistan's "desire for peace should not be mistaken for our weakness. We have the capability to give a befitting answer to any aggression".
"I want to make it clear that Kashmir has a central importance to relations between Pakistan and India," he added.
Gen Bajwa said Pakistan rejected all of India's unilateral and illegal steps taken in Kashmir on August 5, 2019, and paid tribute to "the spirit of Hurriyat of Kashmiris, the sacrifices of martyrs and especially Syed Ali Geelani's long and great struggle".
While concluding his speech, the army chief again paid tribute to officers and martyrs of Pakistan armed forces, intelligence agencies, law-enforcement agencies, and their families. "No power can defeat this nation whose mothers raise their sons to sacrifice their lives for the honour of their country," Gen Bajwa said.