Talks with Taliban should be held under Constitution: COAS Kayani
13 October, 2013
KAKUL: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Saturday that talks should be held with the Taliban under constitutional parameters.
General Kayani said the Pakistan Army fully supports the dialogue process initiated by the national leadership to tackle the menace of terrorism.
Addressing the passing out parade ceremony of the 128th Long Course here at the Pakistan Military Academy, he said the dependence of the civil and military leadership on each other was essential. He said the army will be glad if peace was established through talks.
The army chief said terrorism was a big challenge, and the leadership and the nation had to decide the ways and means of the dialogue process, which was becoming clearer with the process moving ahead.
He said it was imperative that the dialogue process forge unity among the nation instead of creating any divisions.
General Kayani said the impression that the course of dialogue had been adopted after the failure of military operations was totally wrong. He said the desire for talks should not be considered as a weakness. He said the Pakistan Army has given matchless sacrifices in the war against terrorism and achieved major successes against the menace. He said the military should not be ridiculed.
The COAS said the use of power would be the last resort. "If needed, the army is fully prepared for its effective use. There is no confusion among the army in understanding and playing its role in both the situations."
Pakistan, he said, was passing through a critical and difficult phase and the military leadership must play its role to strengthen the democratic system. "The entire nation has to play its role for the resolution of the country's problems," he added.
Terming terrorism a big challenge for the nation, he said it was not only contrary to the country's ideology but also the teachings of Islam.
General Kayani said the Pakistan Army had played its role against terrorism in a very difficult situation. "We should remember those days when armed groups were just 100 kilometres away from Islamabad. When men and women were being slaughtered in the bazaars, and the Green Chowk of Mingora was called a 'Khooni Chowk'. Roads were deserted while businesses and the economy went into the hands of criminals."
In these situations, he said, the efforts and sacrifices rendered by the Pakistan Army have no parallel in present war history.
Quoting the example of Swat, he said more than two million people were rendered homeless but the army took them back to their homes.
"We purged Swat of the militants through a swift and effective military operation and two million people returned to their homes in four months. Today, there is complete peace in Swat and the people of the area are witness to this reality," he said.
The army chief said due to lack of coordination among institutions, the state system could not be evolved properly.
"Due to economic imbalances, the rich became richer and the poor poorer while a weak governance system and intolerance aggravated the situation further," he said, adding: "We should accept that neither any particular person nor any segment of society has a remedy for the problems. We should also accept that these problems cannot be resolved in a few months or years."
General Kayani said the entire nation would have to play its due role while the national leadership would have to show it the right direction. "We will have to stick to this path. This can only be made possible if there is harmony among different state organs," he said, and added that the country had already suffered and could not suffer any more.
He stressed the need to further improve civil and military relations. He said it was imperative for the military leadership to continue working for strengthening the democratic system in the country.
For this purpose, he said, more confidence among the state institutions was needed. "This process has started and it should continue in the future," he added.
The COAS pointed out that confidence and relations among state institutions anywhere in the world were not exemplary.
He said some mistakes were committed during the process of the governing system's evolution elsewhere in the world and the same was the case in Pakistan too. He said society has a key role in correcting these mistakes through constructive criticism.
"If there is an insult in the criticism, the institutions instead of taking corrective measures, get involved in fighting and become weak or stop performing. Therefore, there should be positive criticism," he said.
Pakistan, he said, would develop when its institutions would become strong. He was happy that the society not only understood this but had also made good progress during the last few years in that regard.
He said learning lessons from past mistakes was a must for a bright future. "But totally ignoring successes makes the people despair. We should not forget that we had struggled for the country's development against all odds and mistakes," he said.
General Kayani said the efforts culminated in the present democratic system, which was the central point of the Constitution made with national consensus. He said all the political parties had accepted the results of the 2008 general elections. He said after the 1970 elections, the people in largest numbers had voted in the 2013 general elections. "Now there are elected governments at the Centre and in the provinces. We are now standing with the democratic nations," he said.
He said the armed forces also fulfilled their constitutional obligations. "It was difficult to maintain law and order during the elections. But the Pakistan Army along with other institutions was able to create a conducive atmosphere for the polls," he said, adding: "During the last two elections, the foundation for a democratic Pakistan has been laid and now the present and coming generations should build a structure over it."
He said: "Now we have left behind a bitter past when the nation had to undergo various experiences. Today the nation's fate and destiny is in the hands of its own leadership. This success is a proper reply to those, who are spreading rumours about the country's future."
General Kayani said Pakistan's ideology was based on democracy. "The elements who were busy in working against the ideology, should understand that the country's future was linked to democracy."
He said the founder of Pakistan while addressing the Constituent Assembly had set the direction for the countrymen. "All the people enjoy equal rights in an Islamic welfare state. Any negative approach, which hampers basic democratic rights, has no place in our national life. People's welfare, tolerance, and the acceptance of the Constitution can make the democratic system a complete success," he said.
Citing examples of success in the war against terrorism, the army chief said that besides Swat, South Waziristan, Orakzai, Mohmand, Bajaur, Dir and recently the Tirah valley were freed from the terrorists and extremists.
"We are proud of restoring the writ of the state over an area of 37,000 square kilometres. The successes were achieved through the blood of thousands of Shuhada and Ghazis and creating confusion in this regard will be disrespectful to them. It is not difficult to gauge what would have been happening today without these successes," he said.
He said there was no price for sacrificing a life and no one was demanding the same. "But we are way ahead of those respectable societies which give respect to those, who lay down their lives for the country."
That was why, he said, the Pakistani officers and soldiers did not undergo any stress despite passing through a very difficult situation. "They were performing the sacred duty for the country's defence without any pressure," he added.
He said that in the developed countries, soldiers after returning from the battlefield suffered from mental stress and had a tendency to commit suicide. He said there was not even a single such example cited in case of the Pakistan Army.
Pakistan, he said, was passing through a difficult and critical phase. "Nations have to undergo such situations, but those, who accept them as a challenge, become stronger ones."
He admitted that mistakes had been committed. But at the same time, he said, some good things had also been done because of which Pakistan was a sovereign and strong country today.
General Kayani said the army had achieved all its successes despite limited resources. He said despite a jugglery of figures by some people, the defence budget is 18 percent, not 80 percent.
"We understand that real national security lies in a prosperous and confident people. Pakistan will only be safe against foreign aggression when the entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the army."
It will only be possible when the country's economy is strong, as internally weak nations cannot meet external challenges, he added. He said that the Pakistan Military Academy had a special place among the world's military academies.
The army chief said that he was standing at a place from where he started his journey in 1969. "And what I have achieved during these 44 years is bestowed upon me by the country," he said, adding: "After getting close to the end of a long journey, I can say that the country's sovereignty is a guarantee of our development and that of the coming generations. From today, you (the passed out cadets) are guarantors of the country's sovereignty."