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Pak Army chief Gen Bajwa calls for 'respect' for democratic institutions

ISLAMABAD (PTI):  Pakistan Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has asked the country's future military officers to "respect" the democratic institutions and not to get "distracted' by fake news and political wrangling.

Addressing a passing out parade last Saturday at the prestigious Pakistan Military Academy (PMA), he told the cadets that they should "respect the democratic institutions and be ready to defend the territorial integrity, sovereignty and constitution of Pakistan with your life."

In what could possibly be his last address at the prestigious Academy in Kakul as he is set to retire by the end of November, the 61-year-old Chief of Army Staff (COAS) advised the cadets that as good soldiers they must always remain focused on their jobs and don't get distracted by "fake news and political wrangling" in the country.

The powerful army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 75-plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.

"My dear cadets, you are entering the service when the challenges facing the country are complex and multifaceted hence your responsibilities are far greater and more demanding than that of your predecessors, he said.

The Army chief, who had expressed his support for democracy on many occasions, asked the passing out cadets that they should respect the elected institutions of the country. Always remain prepared and alert to respond and defeat all intrigues and conspiracies hatched against our country with an iron fist," he said.

Bajwa also emphatically stated that the armed forces with the support of the citizens would never allow any country, group or force to politically or economically destabilise Pakistan.

Bajwa's remarks came in the wake of former premier Imran Khan making anti-military statements.

Bajwa has held the top post of the Pakistan Army for six years. He was initially appointed in 2016, but after three years of tenure, the then government of Imran Khan in 2019 extended his service for another three years.

The appointment of the Army chief is the sole prerogative of the prime minister. The upcoming appointment of a new Army chief is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. When Khan was in power, the Opposition accused him of trying to bring an Army chief of his choice, who could support his alleged agenda of victimising opposition leaders.

Since he lost power, the equation has changed and now Khan is saying that the coalition government wants to install an Army head of its choice to protect looted wealth and steal general elections.

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