Politicians must not give Army an opportunity to interfere in politics: COAS

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Politicians must not give Army an opportunity to interfere in politics: COAS

ISLAMABAD - The army chief reportedly told the Senate committee that parliament should thrash out policies on defence and foreign affairs and that the army would follow them, but asked the legislators that the politicians must not give an opportunity to the army (for interference).

He also said that the army did not have any desire to play an extra-constitutional role and parliament was supreme. Regarding the Faizabad sit-in, the army chief reportedly told the forum that the police operation had pushed the situation from bad to worse, causing countrywide protests. “Had the army taken any action against the sit-in participants, the situation would have worsened,” he was quoted as saying.

However, he admitted that the army officer should not have signed the agreement between the government and the sit-in organisers, but added that the sit-in would not have ended without his signature.

Sources say the Senate was also briefed on the missing persons and told that some of them pretend to be missing by going into hiding. PML-N Senator Nehal Hashmi told journalists that the army chief vehemently denied the military role in the sit-ins, including the recent one staged at Faizabad, and offered to step down, if it was proved otherwise.

He added: “The army chief said that there is no room for a presidential system, because not only it weakens a country but also leads to dangerous polarisation.” He said Gen Bajwa stated that the army was ‘subservient’ and ‘answerable to the public’ and the institution had to act according to the law.

In an informal chat with former chairman Senate Senator Farooq H Naek, the army chief said he was satisfied with the role of the army given in the Constitution and that the army was playing its constitutional role and would continue to do so.

The proceedings, which lasted for over four hours, were also attended by ISI DG Lt-Gen Naveed Mukhtar and ISPR DG Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor, and presided over by Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani.