COAS says Army's interference in politics 'unconstitutional'.

Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, in his final public address as the army chief, criticised anti-military narrative and urged political stakeholders to set aside labels of 'imported' and 'selected' to move forward for the country's sake.

The army chief made these remarks on Wednesday during his speech at the Defence and Martyrs day ceremony, which is held annually at the General Headquarters 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 and rescheduled for today.

'Today, I am addressing the Defence and Martyrs Day as the army chief for the last time,' Gen Bajwa, who is set to retire by November 29, said at the start of his speech. 'I am retiring soon. This time, this [ceremony is being held] after some delay.'

He dedicated a major portion of his speech to political matters, saying that he often wondered that the Indian army carried out the most human rights violations in the world but 'their people seldom make them the target of criticism'.

'In contrast to that, our army which day and night remains busy in serving the nation, is often made the subject of criticism,' he said. 'A major reason for this is the army's interference in politics for the last 70 years which is unconstitutional.

'This is why in February last year the army, after great deliberations, decided that it would never interfere in any political matter. I assure you we are strictly adamant on this and will remain so.'

The army chief said that instead of welcoming the military's decision, 'many sectors used very inappropriate and undignified language while making the army the target of severe criticism.'

'To criticise the army is the right of [political] parties and the people, but the language used [should be careful],' he said. Gen Bajwa said that a 'false narrative was created', from which 'an escape is now being attempted'.

He said the army had initiated 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.'

The COAS said that lessons should be learned from such mistakes so the nation could move forward.

Gen Bajwa said the country was facing 'serious economic' issues and no one party could...

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