Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa stressed on Saturday the need for regional peace and developing a mechanism for resolving all bilateral issues peacefully, as he warned that the “price of status quo will be devastating for all of us”.
“We must give peace a chance by developing a mechanism to resolve all our bilateral issues peacefully. Moreover, as opposed to fighting each other, we should collectively fight hunger, poverty, illiteracy, population explosion, climate change and disease,” he emphasised during his address at a ceremony held to mark the passing-out parade of 146th PMA Long Course at Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul.
“The world has changed, so should we as the price of status quo will be devastating for all of us,” warned the army chief.
However, he added: “I must highlight here that our desire for peace must not be construed as our weakness. No one should make any mistake about our collective resolve to defend our core interests and every inch of our motherland.”
The army chief also highlighted that “in our quest for peace, we have extended sincere and all-out efforts to evolve good neighbourly relations with all our neighbours and regional countries.
“We are trying our best to break the political logjam which has denied the countries of South Asia to move forward and resolve all regional and bilateral issues in a peaceful and dignified manner.”
He asserted that the people of South Asia, like the rest of the world, deserved prosperity and better living conditions.
“This can only happen with sustained economic growth, development and above all, lasting peace. Therefore, we must strive hard to keep the flames of war away from the region,” he stressed.
‘Don’t get distracted by fake news’
During his speech, Gen Bajwa urged the passing-out cadets not to get “distracted by fake news and political wrangling” in the country.
“Respect the democratic institution and be always ready to defend the territorial integrity, sovereignty and constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with your life,” he said, adding that they should “always remain alert and prepared to respond to and defeat all intrigues and conspiracies hatched against our country with [an] iron fist”.
’The message is clear: The armed forces with the support of our citizens will never allow any country, group or force to politically or economically destabilise Pakistan,“ he said.
At the outset of his address, the COAS congratulated the passing-out cadets, highlighting that they were about to begin their careers in a “professionally distinguished and a battle-hardened army, which has a long list of successful campaigns to its credits, both in conventional and sub-conventional domains”.
In this regard, he underlined that the Pakistan Army, with the full support and confidence of the nation, had “successfully turned the tide of the menace of terrorism in the last two decades and has ensured that organised terrorism is decisively rooted out from Pakistan.
“This is indeed a unique accomplishment that not many countries or armies can claim.”
The army chief told the cadets that the day held “nostalgic significance” for him as he was in their position 42 years ago and never thought that one day, he would have the honour of commanding this remarkable army.
He said they were set to tread a path that he trod for more than four decades.
“A part of selfless devotion to duty, patriotism, sacrifice and a unique privilege to lead the best offer in men both in peace and war.”
COAS outlines cardinals of military leadership
Wishing the cadets luck and godspeed for their future endeavours, he outlined what he described as “some universally accepted cardinals and traits of military leadership”.
“Frankly speaking, even without possessing these traits, you may still become an officer but surely you can’t command and become a successful leader of men in combat,” the army chief said.
“First, remember that no one is born with professional knowledge. It has to be acquired through constant pursuit. Without it, you cannot achieve professional competence which is the hallmark of successful military leadership,” he began.
He told the cadets that the duty that awaited them was challenging as it was exciting.
“The demands of professional military service will be much high as you go into service. You need to equip yourself with the lofty attributes of leadership with a sense of purpose to gain the respect and trust of your subordinates.
“It is only through the development of your unwavering trust and confidence that you can instil a spirit in your under command which will hold you together in times of crisis,” he said.
Moreover, he said, “the persona of a just and impartial commander who exhibits merit and dispensation of reward and punishment is the one who will earn unconditional loyalty and obedience of his under command.
“As a leader, you need to have courage and [the] ability to take difficult decisions and then accept full responsibility. Correct decision-making requires competence and confidence which can only be acquired through high-class military education, rigorous training and continuous study of military history.
“In the words of Sir Basil Liddell Hart, ‘An officer who has not studied military history as a science is of little use beyond the rank of a captain.’”
The army chief also underscored the value of “keeping up a brave face in front of your men when you’re as shattered and frightened inside as all of them in a life-and-death situation”.
“The contagious energy that you will instil in your men when you lead them by example and not merely by words — remember when a lot of lead is flying in the air in the battlefield, an officer never says advance, he always says follow me,” Gen Bajwa added.
The COAS also highlighted that keeping the “wellbeing of your troops ahead of your own is the hallmark of a successful military leader.
“The essence of the last point cannot be better articulated than what was said by Field Marshal Philip Walhouse Chetwode who said and I quote, ‘The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every time. The honour, welfare comfort of the men you command come next. Your own ease, comfort and safety come last always and every time.’”
He reminded the cadets that these “eternal words are boldly etched even today on the walls of Brigadier Francis Ingle Memorial Hall of Pakistan Military Academy to remind every cadet and officer of these essential cardinals of military leadership”.
The COAS further reminded the cadets that “we have paid both in blood and kind to safeguard our sovereignty and our territory.
“Thousands of valiant sons have sacrificed their lives to enable us to reach the place where we stand today.”
He continued: “My dear cadets, you’re entering the service at a time when the challenges facing the country are complex and multifaceted. Hence, your responsibilities are far greater and more demanding than that of your predecessors.
“You have chosen to serve and protect your motherland which demands the highest level of dedication, sense of purpose and sacrifice. This pledge must never be undermined as you have been amply equipped and prepared to immediately overpower future challenges and emerge victorious.”
Concluding his speech, Gen Bajwa said he was “highly optimistic” and assured by the cadets’ exemplary display of discipline and professionalism that the prestige, security and safety of the country were in safe hands.
“Once again, I congratulate you on your hard-earned and well-deserved commission in the army. My special felicitations to the champion company and those cadets who have earned distinctions for their outstanding performances.
“Do remember it is the beginning of a long journey and not the end. Live your life to the fullest while respecting the morals and ethical values of our religion and culture. Also, zealously guard and uphold our centuries-old military ethos and traditions,” he said.