• Gen Munir says those ‘trampling’ Constitution cannot give lecture to others; urges freedom of expression is not a licence to spew ‘venom’
• Lauds PAF at passing-out parade, notes it is advancing towards ‘self-reliance, indigenisation’
• Says growing arms race may disturb balance of power

RISALPUR: As the establishment faces criticism from different political stakeholders for its alleged interference in the recent elections, Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir on Thursday said the military is “well aware of its limits” and expects others to uphold the Constitution.

The army chief made these remarks at the passing-out parade of the Pakistan Air Force cadets at the Asghar Khan Academy in Risalpur, where he was invited as the chief guest.

“Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakis­tan vide Article 19 has unambiguously drawn the limits to the freedom of expression and speech which must not be misconstrued as freedom of expre­­ssion of venom against others,” the army chief said.

“Hence, those who blatantly trample the same very Constitution on a daily basis in one way or the other cannot and should not issue sermons to others towards its adherence. We know our constitutional limits very well and expect from others to also know them well,” he said.

Gen Munir said the Pakistani nation confronted multi-dimensional threats in the forms of “terrorism, shadow proxies, challenging economic environment, despicable propaganda amplified by social media and false narratives being spread by misguided elements of the society”.

“I would especially urge you not to fall prey to misguided, misdirected, factually incorrect, and politically-motivated propaganda,” he told the graduating cadets, asking them to develop “critical minds to navigate through blurring lines between reality, perception and blatant falsehood”.

“Always remember right is might and not that the might is right. Fight and never cower before coercion, blackmail and terror.”

He lauded the Pakistan Air Force for always maintaining the highest standards of training and morale, and noted that it was gradually advancing towards self-reliance and indigenisation.

The military chief said the professionalism and brilliance of PAF officers had been clearly displayed in wars against Pakistan’s arch-rival profoundly in February, 2019, alluding to the shooting down of the Indian fighter jet which had intruded into Pakistani airspace.

“We shall never allow anyone to challenge our territorial integrity, sovereignty and the security of our beloved homeland.”

Gen Munir also acknowledged and recognised the PAF’s contributions to war on terror and intimate support to the land and naval forces.

He also referred to the Indian forces trampling on human rights and muzzling of voices of self-determination in India-held Kashmir, and deplored “the deafening silence of the international community over the situation”. The COAS reiterated Pakistan’s moral, political and diplomatic support to the people of the held valley.

APP adds: According to the army chief, the growing arms race is likely to disturb the balance of power in South Asia.

The COAS said, “Advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence, robotics and quantum computing are changing the use of air power as well as expanding its scope. However, without a strong air force, a country is at the mercy of any aggressor.” He said the Pakistan Air Force had always lived up to the expectations of the nation.

“You are the centre of our hopes, the guardian of the skies and the guarantor of regional unity. You are expected to lead a life adorned with the virtues of character, courage and competence. Your conduct will be extraordinary not only for your personal ethics but also for the respected institution. You will never hesitate to sacrifice for the defence, honour and dignity of the motherland,” he said while addressing the cadets.

The COAS further said the military leadership expected that the young cadets would always uphold the eternal tradition of the nation’s best spirit, professionalism and bravery.

He said that the Gaza war was the latest example of the suffering that wars could bring.

“Indiscriminate killing of elderly, women and children in Gaza is proof that violence is increasing in the world.”

Published in Dawn, May 3rd, 2024

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