KARACHI: Pakistan Air Force cadets in action during a ceremony held in connection with the Defence and Martyrs Day at the Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum on Monday.—AFP
KARACHI: Pakistan Air Force cadets in action during a ceremony held in connection with the Defence and Martyrs Day at the Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum on Monday.—AFP

ISLAMABAD: President Arif Alvi and Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Monday emphasised the need for national unity to face the challenges confronting Pakistan and highlighted the responsible role played by the country for peace and security in the region.

They were speaking at a ceremony held at the Martyrs Monument in General Headquarters to commemorate the ‘Defence and Martyrs Day’. The event was attended by ministers, senior political leadership, servicemen, members of civil society and representatives of diplomatic corps.

President Alvi said that “exemplary national unity can guarantee a bright future for the country” and called for self-belief, confidence in the state, and inculcating the values of tolerance, forbearance and discipline. He said propaganda, fake news and disinformation would have to be rejected for moving ahead.

Referring to the Kashmir dispute, Mr Alvi underscored the need for its just settlement. Progress of the region and the prosperity of its people were linked with the settlement of the Kashmir dispute, he said while warning India that its excesses in the occupied valley would not be able to extinguish the desire for freedom among the Kashmiris.

Defence and Martyrs Day ceremony held at GHQ

Gen Bajwa too in his remarks laid special emphasis on national unity and public support for the armed forces. He referred to the threat of hybrid war and said that it could be dealt with through maintaining national cohesiveness and a strong relationship between the armed forces and the public.

He said that while the armed forces were fully aware of the designs and machinations of the ‘external enemy’, there was a need to sternly deal with the ‘internal element’ spreading disunity.

“It is a cause of concern that a few people are being exploited by the enemies of the state. We will not allow their designs to succeed. The situation calls for strengthening the relationship between the people and the armed forces,” he said.

Violence and extremism, the army chief said, would no more be tolerated and no one would be allowed to blackmail the state on the basis of ethnicity, regionalism, language, ideology or religion.

Emphasising the importance of public support, the army chief pointed to Afghanistan’s example and said that armed forces cannot resist without the backing of the masses. The character of war, he said, has changed and the enemy now assaults the unity of people, ideological frontiers, and national morale through use of technology and means of communications for attainment of its sinister designs.

Gen Bajwa said Pakistan’s strength and survival were in democracy. He, therefore, said democracy needed to be strengthened, Constitution should be abided, and principles of justice and tolerance should be followed. “Criticism for sake of criticism, hate, and intolerance would have to be discouraged and personal interests and ego would have to be put aside,” he added.

Speaking about Afghanistan, Gen Bajwa asked the world powers to play a positive role for restoration of peace there. He expressed the hope that the international community would not leave the people of Afghanistan alone in this difficult situation and allow a humanitarian crisis to unfold there.

“Pakistan is ready to cooperate with every country for peace in Afghanistan,” he maintained.

The army chief expected that the Afghan leaders would resolve their issues amicably and form an inclusive government. He said Pakistan would expect from the new regime in Afghanistan that human rights are observed, women rights are respected, and their soil is not used against any other country.

Gen Bajwa rejected India’s actions in occupied Kashmir and reiterated full support for the people of Kashmiris in their quest for freedom.

Published in Dawn, September 7th, 2021

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