Islamabad, Oct 10 (PTI) Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Saturday said that the military's all actions were guided by the Constitution and were in the 'national interest'.
Addressing a passing out parade of cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul, Gen Bajwa said the army would continue to support the government and 'defend our democratic values to the hilt'.
The powerful army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.
Gen Bajwa's remarks came amid allegations by two major Opposition parties that the powerful army rigged the 2018 elections that brought Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf party to power.
In the past, political leaders have only indirectly pointed to the involvement of the military establishment in the country’s political affairs but this is the first time that the leaders of the two main Opposition parties - the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N) have openly criticised the military.
Gen Bajwa said that all actions of the army were guided by the Constitution and the national interests of Pakistan. He also said that the army would come to the support of the government, whenever asked according to the guidelines of the Constitution and the law.
'We Pakistanis have proved that we can do wonders when we keep our national interests above our parochial, institutional and personal interests,' he said.
Three-time former prime minister and PML-N supremo Sharif, who is in London since November last year and facing a number of corruption cases, last month alleged that the military rigged the 2018 elections to bring Prime Minister Khan to power.
He said interfering in politics in uniform amounts to treason under the country's Constitution.
His allegations sparked an angry response from Khan, who said Sharif was 'playing a very dangerous game' by humiliating the military and intelligence services. He dismissed the allegations of rigged elections as baseless.
After Sharif, PPP chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Friday accused the military of rigging the 2018 elections.
'Such things were never witnessed even in dictatorships of General Zia and Gen Musharraf,' Bilawal was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
In his address, Gen Bajwa said that Pakistan's enemies launched the hybrid war against it due to frustration after failure in their efforts to cause doom and destruction.
'This war is not fought on the battlefield but in the minds. In this new war, leadership at all levels is the target. The objective of hybrid war is to target the sense of hope in Pakistan and to perpetuate the perception that ‘yahan kuch acha nahi ho sakta’ (nothing good can happen here),' he said.
He further said that this concept would be defeated. “Let me tell you: ‘yahan sab acha hoga’ (everything will be good here),' he said.
However, he said that there was a difference between genuine criticism and hybrid warfare and everyone should be ready to listen to genuine concerns.
He said the Pakistan army had defeated terrorism and also successfully faced a big army. He said peace achieved after defeating terrorism was not an end and efforts were needed to achieve economic independence and make the country a reflection of M Ali Jinnah, the founding father.
'You must realise that peace is not an end in itself. Our efforts of decades will be wasted if we cannot protect the base from where our nation will rise to the heights of economic sovereignty and ideological maturity, thus truly becoming Quaid's (Jinnah) Pakistan,” he said. PTI SH ZH ZH