Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday addressed the Defence and Martyrs day ceremony.
The Defence and Martyrs day ceremony is held annually at the General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi on September 6 to commemorate the sacrifices of fallen heroes of the 1965 war. However, it was postponed this year in solidarity with flood victims across the country.
“Today, I am addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day as the army chief for the last time,” Gen Bajwa said at the start of his speech. “I am retiring soon. This time, this [ceremony is being held] after some delay.”
In the final part of his speech, the outgoing COAS said he wanted say a few words on “political matters”.
The army chief said that armies around the world are seldom criticised “but our army is often subjected to criticism. “I think reason for that is the army’s involvement in politics. That is why in February, the army decided to not interfere in politics.”
“Many sectors subjected the army to criticism and used inappropriate language,” he said. “To criticise the army is the right of [political] parties and the people, but the language used [should be careful].”
Gen Bajwa said that a “false narrative was created”, from which “an escape is now being attempted”.
He said the army had started its process of “catharsis” and expected that political parties would follow suit as well and reflect on their behaviour. “This is the reality that there have been mistakes from every institution, including political parties and civil society.”
At the onset of the event, a tribute video was played about the recent catastrophic floods in the country and the scale of destruction they caused. The video also showcased the military’s rescue, relief and rehabilitation efforts.
Gen Bajwa will be retiring by the end of the month after commanding the army for six years. He was appointed army chief in 2016 for a three-year tenure, which was extended by three years in after parliament legislated on the tenures of services chiefs on the orders of the Supreme Court.