Kayani takes exception to public discussion on agencies
ISLAMABAD – Tacitly registering his concern over the debate in the media on the role of the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Kayani on Wednesday said “the national institutions should not be undermined”.
“The debate (on TV channels) does not support national institutions as it works to de-motivate soldiers performing their duties in 20˚Celsius below the freezing point. We need to motivate our soldiers instead of demoralising them by such debates,” the COAS said while informally talking to a group of editors at the farewell dinner hosted by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani for the outgoing Air Chief Rao Qamar Suleman.
Though he did not specifically point out any particular talk show, he did say that the debate “in the evening” was not contributing positively. He referred to other countries, including Israel, and said they never talked about their intelligence agencies the way the ISI was discussed in Pakistan. “Even in countries like the United States, the role of agencies is not discussed publicly,” he said.
He admitted that mistakes did take place but it did not mean that the institutions should be undermined. “It takes very long to build institutions,” the COAS observed. About the role of the army in politics, Gen Kayani said he had taken a “conscious decision” to keep his institution out of politics. But when referred to the Mehran Bank scam, he said it had happened 20 years earlier and discussing it now was fighting history. “We should learn from the past, live in the present with a focus on the future,” he said. He rubbished reports that the army or the ISI was supporting PTI chief Imran Khan. “If anyone has any proof of this, it should be brought to the fore and it is also for Imran Khan to take notice of this allegation,” Gen Kayani said. On Balochistan, he said he had many a time said that there was no military operation going on in the province and there was no plan to set up new cantonments there. “The Sui cantonment has already been converted into a military college. Similarly, a medical college has been set up in Quetta and it has become operational,” he said, accepting that the only role the army had played was to resolve the disputes between the tribes as it was hampering development work in the province. About the missing persons, the COAS referred to a report already submitted with the Supreme Court and said there were only 47 missing persons in Pakistan as compared to 350 in India and 11,000 in Sri Lanka. However, he refrained from going into details, saying the matter was sub-judice. He said parliament was supreme and the issue of NATO supplies and relations with the United States would be in accordance with the decision of parliament which would meet on March 19. He said he had asked the US military officials not to visit Pakistan before the joint session of parliament which would draw fresh guidelines for relations with the United States and Pakistan’s role in the war on terror. Gen Kayani, however, confirmed that US CENTCOM commander General James Mattis would visit Pakistan by the end of March after the joint session of parliament framed new rules of engagement with Washington after the Salala incident.
Courtesy: Pakistan Today