ISLAMABAD: The military on Tuesday dismissed the accusations of political interference against the armed forces as unfounded and emphasised that grievances should be resolved through legal channels instead of resorting to destabilising rhetoric.

This was one of the key statements that emerged from the 263rd Corps Commanders’ Confe­re­nce held at the General Headqu­arters — the first after the Feb 8 elections, which were overshadowed by an unprecedented delay in the announcement of results and accusations of electoral manipulation.

“The forum (corps commanders’ conference) expressed dismay that some vested small segments of polity and media, especially social media, have been maligning Armed Forces of Pak­istan with unsubstantiated allegations of interference, which is highly deplorable,” the military’s media wing ISPR said in a statement after the conference.

Following the elections, PTI supporters and members levelled accusations against the military, alleging it manipulated the election outcomes to thwart former premier Imran Khan’s allies from securing a majority. This, they claim, was done to facilitate the ascension of a government aligned with the military’s preferences.

Military renews resolve to bring to justice those involved in May 9 attacks

The outcry against these alle­ged manipulations has led to wid­espread protests across the country, with a significant portion of the dissent and narrative against the purported rigging gaining momentum on social media.

The allegations have also raised questions about the legitimacy of the new government. Some of these accusations were even noted by the international community that called for investigations — a demand that was promptly rejected by the military.

The corps commanders, while defending the role of the military in polls, maintained that the mandate given to the troops was restricted to providing security and quite unrelated to the electoral process.

Criticising those pursuing the rigging allegations, the corps commanders said that such “vested interests” were “creating political instability and uncertainty” by blaming others instead of focusing on real issues such as good governance, economic recovery, political stability and public well-being.

“The forum emphasised that due legal processes be followed with evidence and proof rather than resorting to unconstitutional and uncalled-for baseless political rhetoric and emotional outbursts,” the ISPR said.

The military’s top brass, according to ISPR, hoped that political and economic stability would be restored after the elections resulting into peace and prosperity for the people of Pakistan.

“Democratic consolidation is the way forward for the country,” the commanders emphasised.

They reaffirmed their dedication to fully support the government’s efforts in addressing security challenges and enhancing the socioeconomic development of the country. This included a firm commitment to assist in eliminating illegal activities such as smuggling, hoarding and electricity theft, enforcing the One Document Regime, and ensuring the return of all undocumented foreigners.

The military further renewed its resolve to bring to justice those involved in the May 9 attacks on military installations and monuments. The military, in this regard, aligned itself with “the prime minister’s resolve” to prosecute the perpetrators according to law.

The military leadership also took a firm stance against what it described as deliberate efforts to distort facts, spread confusion and propagate misinformation, attributing these to narrow political agendas aimed at obscuring the gravity of the May 9 events.

Important in the military’s narrative is its denouncement of “organised misinformation and fake news”, alleged to be sowing despair and division within society.

Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2024

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