Armed forces must stay out of politics, says Pakistan Army General Bajwa

Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa has assured the nation that the armed forces have moved away from politics and want to continue to do so, according to a media report on Wednesday.

General Bajwa, who is in the United States, also reiterated his pledge to step down after completing his second three-year term in November, adding that he would fulfill the pledge he made earlier on Dawn reports the newspaper.

The Chief of the Defense Staff (COAS), General Bajwa, 61, will retire on November 29. Mr. Bajwa was granted an extension for a second three-year term in 2019.

His remarks came during a luncheon held at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington.

According to those who attended the event, Mr Bajwa said the armed forces have moved away from politics and wanted to continue doing so, the newspaper reported.

The remarks came after former Prime Minister Imran Khan made anti-military statements.

Mr. Bajwa served as the head of the Pakistani army for six years. He was initially appointed in 2016 but after three years in office, the then government of Imran Khan in 2019 extended his service for another three years.

The appointment of the head of the army is the sole prerogative of the prime minister. The upcoming appointment of a new army chief is making headlines for all the wrong reasons.

When Mr Khan was in power, the opposition accused him of trying to bring in a military leader of his choosing who could support his alleged agenda of victimizing opposition leaders.

Since he lost power the equation has changed and now Mr Khan says the coalition government wants to install an army chief of his choosing to protect looted wealth and steal the general election.

The mighty military, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 75-plus years, has so far wielded considerable power in security and foreign policy.

Mr. Bajwa also stressed that reviving Pakistan’s weakened economy should be everyone’s top priority as the nation would not be able to achieve its goals without a robust economy.

“There could be no diplomacy either without a strong economy,” the army chief said in his address to an audience including several Pakistani diplomats.