ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Ex-Ser­vicemen Society (PESS) on Tuesday disassociated itself from the presser by its patron-in-chief Lt Gen (retd) Faiz Ali Chisti on the debate regarding the appointment of the new army chief and growing political polarisation in the country.

“Press Conference of Lt Gen Faiz Ali Chishti, Patron-in-Chief Pakis­tan Ex-Servicemen Society-PESS, was conducted in his personal ca­­pacity. Unfortunately Gen Chishti represented PESS without any approval/discussion/knowled­­ge of Central Working Committee for his agenda,” PESS said in a statement, adding that it did not approve of it.

The statement emphasised that the absence of PESS officials sho­w­­ed that the presser had been wron­gly attributed to the veterans’ body.

PESS became mired in a controversy last September when the Ministry of Defence, in an unusual statement, challenged the body’s claim of representing the retired servicemen saying it had not been authorised to do so. The ministry’s move had then come in the midst of criticism of army’s current leadership by retired military officers.

Gen Chisti had on that occasion called for withdrawal of the defence ministry’s statement.

At his presser at the National Press Club, the retired general seemed to be lending support to the army at a time when its impending change of command is being politicised. He cautioned against making the appointment of army chief controversial. “I’ve seen Pakistan flourishing and also separating into two parts, but now I’m seeing it sink,” he worried.

He said that all officers were trai­ned and groomed and there was little difference between those on the panel, sent by GHQ, from which the new commander would be chosen.

He feared that some elements were trying to create hatred bet­ween the army and the people and there was a surge in the campaigns targeting the army. He demanded an end to the smear campaigns.

While touching upon the attempt on PTI Chair­man Imran Khan’s life, the general said the attacker looked to be “trying to intimidate instead of killing him”. Since Mr Khan was attacked in Punjab, where his own party was in the government, it should be investigated why he wasn’t given full security, he pointed out.

PESS Vice President Maj Gen (retd) Ijaz Awan, while talking to Dawn, said Gen Chishti’s status as patron-in-chief was because of his longstanding association with the body, but lately he was not actively participating in its activities. He said PESS was not linked to politics and was a welfare body for the retired servicemen.

Published in Dawn, November 16th, 2022

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