Refrain from making COAS post controversial: ISPR

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RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army Thursday took a strong exception to the statements of senior politicians about the military leadership and media discussions, asking them once again to refrain from making the Chief of Army Staff's (COAS) post controversial.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General (DG) Major General Babar Iftikhar said the position of Chief of the Army Staff was like 'Centre of gravity' in the Pakistan Army and unnecessary criticism of him caused a negative impact. "We have been saying again and again that Pakistan Army should be kept away from politics," he said. He added that Pak Army has been exercising restraint.

Also, the Pakistan Army on Thursday took a serious notice of statements of some political leaders against the Peshawar corps commander and termed those highly inappropriate. "The recent statements of some politicians against corps commander Peshawar are highly inappropriate and such statements have negative impact on dignity and morale of forces and their leadership," the ISPR said in the statement.

The statement said Peshawar Corps is a distinguished formation of the Pakistan Army, which has been playing a leading role in the country's war against terrorism for the last two decades, and its command always remains in the best professional hands.

The statement said brave officers and soldiers of Pakistan are always ready to sacrifice their lives for sovereignty and security of the country. Therefore, the ISPR statement said, it is expected from the senior national political leadership that they would refrain from giving any controversial statement against the institution.

The ISPR DG said standards for leadership in the Pakistan Army were very high and any criticism of its leadership affects the morale of officers and soldiers, who believe in their command. “All officers and soldiers believe in the leadership of the army chief and criticism of him affects their morale,” he said.

He pointed out whenever there were rumours and wrong statements against the Pakistan Army, those dampened the morale of the institution. He regretted that leadership of all the political parties gave statements against the military leadership in the last few days despite repeated requests that the armed forces should be kept away from politics.

He said that security challenges were so big that the armed forces could not afford getting involved in politics, but there could be no excuse if there was any lapse in the country's security.

The military spokesman said no one should remain under any illusion that any division could be created within the Pakistan Army. “If anybody feels that any division can be created within Pakistan Army, then he is not aware of the discipline in the institution,” he said.

Major General Baba Iftikhar maintained that the Pakistan Army is like a unit and the whole army looks towards the Army Chief. "Therefore, nobody should remain under any doubt that any division can be created in Pakistan Army,” he said. He made it clear that they have no problem with legitimate criticism, but the social media was indulging in propaganda, and not criticism. He also pointed out that any command in any rank is important and the rank of corps commander was important after the Chief of Army Staff.

He pointed out that 70 per cent strength of Pakistan Army was on deployment and participating in counterterrorism operations at different fronts. "Our army achieved big successes in the fight against terrorism while soldiers and officers of all ranks have offered sacrifices," he said.

He also made it clear that decision for early elections is to be taken by politicians, and the Pakistan Army has nothing to do with it. Saying that it were politicians who could take better decision about early election, the military spokesman pointed out that the issue becomes controversial whenever the Pakistan Army is unnecessarily dragged into it. However, he said the armed forces would perform their duties when they are called for security duty during the conduct of general elections.

He said that the leadership of Pakistan Army never asked for meeting with politicians, but the army chief met them whenever he was requested for the same and in this connection, the whole responsibility lay with politicians.

He also made it clear that visits of Director General ISI continue to take place in the background and he also holds meetings with intelligence chiefs of different departments and also does intelligence sharing with them. "The visits of DG ISI are never opened and there should be no ambiguity in this regard," he said. However, he said he had no information about the ISI DG's visit to the USA.

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