RAWALPINDI: Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has said that no person or group will be allowed “to blackmail the state on the basis of regionalism, linguistics, ideology or religion.”
“There is no room for any more violent behaviour or extremism in Pakistan,” he said.
On the occasion of Defence Day, a function was organised at the GHQ in Rawalpindi where President Arif Ali was the chief guest while all the three service chiefs and cabinet members were also present.
The President, along with the Army Chief, laid flowers at the Martyrs’ Memorial and offered Fateha.
Addressing the ceremony, Gen Bajwa said that the protection of the homeland is undoubtedly a sacred duty “which is dearer to us than life itself”.
“The sacrifices of our martyrs are an expression of the same spirit of love for our homeland,” he said. “Our elders lit the candle of freedom with their sacrifice, which faced severe trials from the beginning, be it 1948, September 1965, or the 1971 war, the Battle of Kargil or the long-running war on terror.”
He added: “During all these testing times, the Pakistani forces proved that they know how to defend the country under any situation and are ready to pay any price for it.”
The Army Chief assured the families of the martyrs that the sacrifices of their loved ones will “never be forgotten.”
“The purpose of today’s ceremony is to renew the promise that we will never forget our martyrs and it is our responsibility to look after their heirs.”
Bajwa maintained that the security and peace of this country “are dear to us under all circumstances”.
He said that the love for the homeland is beyond all personal groups formed on the basis of linguistic, ethnic and prejudices, adding “we will not shy away from any sacrifice for the security, development, and peace of Pakistan.”
Pakistan’s armed forces “are ready for any kind of internal and external threats.”
He added: “We have the capacity to fight conventional and non-conventional warfare, open and hidden enemies, if anybody wants to test us, they will find us ready at every moment and on every front.”
The Army Chief added that Pakistan’s enemies want to achieve their nefarious aims through unconventional tactics, including propaganda and misinformation.
“We all have to deal with the fact that some people are being used under the banner of anti-national elements, it is called hybrid or fifth-generation war, and its purpose is to hollow out the roots of Pakistan and damage the country’s integrity.”
He said that in the 21st century, “we must work on geo-economic priorities, regional integration and the acquisition of modern technology to promote people’s development, prosperity and regional cooperation, rather than the traditional negative thinking of geopolitics against each other.”
The COAS added: “I believe that education, health, infrastructure development, population control, and climate change should be our priorities.”
‘Keeping a close watch on Afghanistan’
Speaking about the Afghanistan situation, the COAS said that “we are keeping a close watch on the situation in the region, especially after the withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, where the situation provides an opportunity for peace and stability, as it is a prelude to further threats and difficulties.”
Bajwa said that as it turns out, “we want the security and development of the Afghan people” and expect the major powers in the region and the world, including the United Nations, to play a positive role in bringing lasting peace to Afghanistan.
“We are not only aware of the devastation of the war and the resulting hardships and sufferings of our Afghan brothers, but we can also feel the pain,” he said, adding that Pakistan wants the Afghan leadership to resolve all issues through understanding and bring peace and prosperity to the Afghan people.
“We also expect a stable and representative government in Afghanistan, respect for human rights, including women’s rights, and no use of Afghan soil against any other country, Bajwa maintained.
“At the same time, we expect that the world will not leave the Afghan nation alone in this difficult time, nor will it allow the country to fall victim to any humanitarian crisis. In this regard, Pakistan is ready to cooperate with every country in the world,” the Army Chief maintained.