–ISPR DG says ‘Bajwa doctrine’, if there is any, is related to country’s security only
–Says army chief is not opposed to 18th Amendment, wants provinces to be empowered truly
–Army has nothing to do with any kind of NRO, no ‘secret meeting’ took place between COAS and Punjab CM
–Warns India against destabilising Pakistan, says neighbouring country stands most to lose in such a situation
–Army never supported sit-ins nor it ever will
RAWALPINDI: The Pakistani military on Wednesday sought to allay concerns over the “Bajwa doctrine”, which has stirred a controversy in the mainstream media, especially after an off-record meeting between a group of journalists and the army chief at the GHQ some days ago.
“If a ‘Bajwa doctrine’ exists its scope is limited just to the security aspect in Pakistan,” Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor said while addressing a press conference at the army’s General Headquarters.
According to reports in the media, the army chief during the meeting had expressed concerns over the 18th Amendment and Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP), ostensibly for fiscal reasons, and expressed an all-out support to the judiciary in case of a standoff with the political forces.
However, Gen Ghafoor rejected the impression shaped by the media, saying: “When the media interaction took place, things were lumped together and made a part of the Bajwa doctrine.”
“Every army chief has their own perspective and Gen Bajwa’s is to promote peace which existed in the past. That is what the Bajwa doctrine is.”
“I take pride that some media anchors respected the norms of media interaction in that off-the-record conversation,” he said. “But some presented their own interpretations and some, who were not even present, wrote articles.”
Regarding Gen Bajwa’s reported opposition to the 18th Amendment, the ISPR chief clarified that the army chief is not against the 18th Amendment but simply wants to ensure that the provinces are capable of making decisions.
“There was a lot of talk about the 18th Amendment,” he said. “The army chief never said that as a whole 18th Amendment is not good; amendments are brought because the constitution remained incomplete in certain aspects.
“This amendment did certain good things like decentralising certain matters. There is nothing better than every province being responsible for its own matters, but they should also be capable of making those decisions.”
Responding to a question, Gen Ghafoor said the army chief met certain journalists because some of them wanted to meet him. It was an off the record meeting regarding the security situation of the country, he said.
“The army chief addressed the same issues in the meeting as I discuss with you in my press conferences,” he said.
NO ROLE IN NRO:
Gen Ghafoor said the Pakistan Army has nothing to do with any kind of NRO [National Reconciliation Ordinance] as he denied, once again, “secret meetings” between Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Gen Bajwa.
The military spokesperson said that as far as the army chief’s meeting with anyone is concerned, meetings happen; however, there was no truth in the reports that claimed that Shehbaz had met the army chief twice in three days and an NRO was in the offing.
“Shehbaz Sharif had [merely] called on the army chief to offer financial support for border fencing, the ISPR chief said, adding that there was no truth in media reports pertaining to the secret meeting.
ARMY HAS NO SAY IN ELECTIONS:
Commenting on the imminent general polls, the ISPR DG said that the military has nothing to do with the elections and it will only act as per its constitutional role.
“Other institutions, too, are performing their jobs and Pakistan will only develop and be more secure when every institution will perform its job, without any fear, while remaining in its jurisdiction as prescribed in the constitution,” he added.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will announce [the elections] and the sitting government and interim government have a role in it, he said, adding that the army has nothing to do with elections’ announcement.
We are as good a citizen as you are when it comes to the timeframe of holding elections or not, he added.
Later on, in an informal meeting with the journalists, he denied army’s involvement in the Faizabad sit-in, saying the military has never supported [such] sit-ins nor it ever will.
In a response to a demand of Tehreek-e-Labaik Ya Rasulullah (TLYR), he said that the army chief won’t meet a delegation of 50 clerics regarding the implementation of the Faizabad agreement.
He further said that the country is in no position to afford any extra-constitutional measure as he assured that the army won’t be a part of any such moves.
During the presser, the ISPR DG denied that there is a deadlock in talks with the US. “Action on our concerns has begun, whereas action against certain sanctuaries in Afghanistan is also being taken, he said, while denying the existence of terror havens in Pakistan. The US has been pondering to cut off Pakistan’s military aid, according to media reports.
Despite all that, Pakistan is still being questioned. “Questioning us undermines our achievements,” he added.
PAK TROOP DEPLOYMENT IN SAUDI ARABIA:
Commenting on the recent controversy of Pakistan troops being sent to Saudi Arabia, the army spokesperson said that the Pakistani troops have still not been sent to Saudi Arabia.
Discussing the terms between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Gen Ghafoor said the two countries have had a bilateral security agreement since 1982. “Our armed forces go to countries that Pakistan has bilateral terms with,” he said.
Commenting on the army chief’s visit to foreign countries, he said: “The COAS has visited Sri Lanka, Kabul, Germany, Brunei and he is currently in Malaysia, as I speak.”
He further stated that the army chief’s visit to Iran has led to improved border communication, resulting in better security in Balochistan and enhancing development in the province.
UNSTABLE PAKISTAN NOT IN INDIA’S INTEREST:
The army spokesperson warned India not to support instability in Pakistan, saying an unstable Pakistan will not be in the interest of the eastern neighbour.
He said that ceasefire violations at the Line of Control (LoC) were damaging to the peace process which New Delhi needs to realise.
According to the ISPR, Indian ceasefire violations at the LoC and Working Boundary were the worst in history as there have been 948 violations in 2018.
“Our desire for peace cannot and should not be considered a weakness,” he cautioned.
He said that the world is aware of the consequences when two nuclear states are involved in a conflict.
Regarding extending an invitation to the Indian ambassador on Pakistan Day parade, he said the move shows “our diplomatic values”. We are a responsible country and invited them to let them witness the resilience of Pakistan, he added.
BALOCHISTAN SITUATION IMPROVING:
Maj Gen Ghafoor said that the army’s focus has been on Balochistan for the past six to eight months.
“Three per cent of Pakistan’s population resides in Balochistan and the situation in the province is improving,” he said.
Responding to a question about a protest by the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) about landmines installed by the Pakistan Army in FATA and KP that left 80 persons disabled, the DG ISPR said the situation in the region had improved.
Gen Ghafoor said that he and the prime minister have met PTM leader Manzoor Pashteen. “He is a bright young student.”
He further added that the PTM started in correlation with Naqeebullah Mehsud’s extrajudicial killing which is being looked over by the country’s top court now. “However, the PTM gained a lot of sympathy from Afghanistan,” he said.
On Naqeebullah’s murder in Karachi, Gen Ghafoor said, “No responsible Pakistani justified the killing of Naqeebullah Mehsud.” We also want an investigation to be conducted into Naqeebullah’s killing and for those responsible to be dealt with according to law, he added.
PSL AND MARCH 23 PARADE:
The ISPR chief also talked about last week’s Pakistan Day parade and Pakistan Super League (PSL) final in Karachi, saying all went well.
He said that the army has asked PCB to arrange matches in others cities as well.
Regarding the PSL final, General Ghafoor said that there was a bit of inconvenience as students had exams from which we learned that we should have coordinated with other departments.
Terming the PSL final in Karachi as a major breakthrough, he said that there used to be 70 no-go areas but as of today there are none. The concept of shutter-down strikes is no more, he added.
“He further said that sick industries in the port city are reviving and hotel occupancy is back to hundred per cent. But this does not mean there is nothing more to be done. We need to take things forward.”