Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) took exception to the "imprudent comments" made by the country's senior politicians about Peshawar Corps Commander Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, terming them "very inappropriate".
In a statement, the military's media affairs wing said the Peshawar Corps was an "illustrious formation" of the army and was spearheading the national war against terrorism for over two decades.
"One of the most competent and professional officers is entrusted with the responsibility to lead this prestigious formation. Imprudent comments made by important senior politicians recently about [the] Peshawar Corps commander are very inappropriate," the ISPR said.
It added that such statements undermined the honour and the morale of the institution and its leadership.
"It is expected that the senior political leadership of [the] country refrains from passing objectionable remarks against the institution, whose brave officers and men are constantly putting their lives on the line to guard the integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan," the statement concluded.
'Army showing tolerance, restraint'
Speaking to the media shortly after the press release was issued, ISPR Director General (DG) Major General Babar Iftikhar reiterated that "many statements" were made in the last few days by the country's politicians and termed them "highly inappropriate".
Maj Gen Iftikhar said that the institution was showing "tolerance and restraint and requesting that the army is not dragged into politics".
He said the army was fulfilling important responsibilities for ensuring security on the country's western, eastern, and northern borders, while also taking measures for internal security. "We, as an institution, have nothing to do with the political situation of the country," he said.
The army's spokesperson also said that the appointment of the next army chief should not be made "controversial" by turning it a topic of debate. He said the procedure for the appointment of the army chief had been outlined in the Constitution, adding that it would take place in accordance with the law.
The DG ISPR said that there was no chance of anyone being able to cause rifts within the army.
"It must be clarified that there is no problem with fair criticism," the military spokesperson said, lamenting that social media was being used to create propaganda instead of mere criticism.
He clarified that the decision for early elections had to be taken by politicians and not the army and underlined that politicians were capable of making better decisions. "Whenever the army is called in a political matter, the matter becomes controversial."
The DG ISPR said the army never invites politicians for meetings but whenever a request is made from the other side, the army chief has to oblige, it added.
While the ISPR statement did not name any particular politician, it comes after PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N's Maryam Nawaz made comments about Lt Gen Hameed, who served as the Inter-Services Intelligence chief from June 16, 2019 to Oct 19, 2021.
On Wednesday, Zardari had been asked about Lt Gen Hameed at a press conference in Karachi and had replied with: "The helpless Faiz Hameed has been sidelined." However, he had later issued a clarification that he had "unintentionally" uttered the sentence.
Meanwhile, Maryam told reporters outside the Islamabad High Court earlier today that that the army chief should be a person who had a "flawless reputation", free from any criticism or doubts.
The PML-N vice president made the remarks while answering a question about Defence Minister Khawaja Asif's comments, wherein he had said that Lt Gen Hameed's name could be considered for the new army chief.
In her media talk, she said that the army was a respectable institution for the country and its people. "The nation looks at the army for the unity and security of Pakistan. So it is important that the army chief is a person who is worthy and stainless so that people salute the Pakistan Army."
Addressing a rally last week in Fateh Jang, Maryam had also criticised Lt Gen Hameed while referring to Imran Khan's recent podcast appearance where he had said the intelligence chief was the "eyes and ears" of the government.
The PML-N leader had said: "We know that he wasn't your eyes and ears [rather] he was your hands through which you throttled your political opponents."