‘No individual has monopoly to define ultimate national interest’
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said on Monday that no individual or institution has the monopoly to decide what is right or wrong in defining the ultimate national interest.
"It should emerge only through a consensus, and all Pakistanis have a right to express their opinions. The constitution provides a clear mechanism for it," he said while speaking to a group of officers at GHQ here.
According to an ISPR press release issued here, Gen Kayani said, "as a nation, we are passing through a defining phase. "We are critically looking at the mistakes made in the past and trying to set the course for a better future. An intense discussion and debate is natural in this process." The COAS said, "We all have a great responsibility to our shoulders. We should learn from our past, try to build the present and keep our eyes set on a better future. We all agree that strengthening the institutions, ensuring the rule of law and working within the well defined bounds of the constitution is the right way forward."
He said weakening of the institutions and trying to assume more than one's due role will set us back, adding, "We owe it to the future of Pakistan, to lay correct foundations, today. We should not be carried away by short term considerations which may have greater negative consequences in the future."
He said that Armed Forces draw their strength from the bedrock of the public support. National security is meaningless without it. Therefore, any effort which wittingly or unwittingly draws a wedge between the people and Armed Forces of Pakistan undermines the larger national interest.
While constructive criticism is well understood, conspiracy theories based on rumours which create doubts about the very intent, are unacceptable. He said the integrity and cohesion of the Armed Forces is essentially based on the trust reposed in them by the people of Pakistan.
Strengthening this trust will ensure better security of the Country. Equally important is the trust between the leaders and the led of the Armed Forces, he added.
Gen. Kayani said any effort to create a distinction between the two, undermines the basis of this concept and is not tolerated, be it Pakistan or any other country. While individual mistakes might have been made by all of us in the Country, these should be best left to the due process of law, he said and added, as we all are striving for the rule of law, the fundamental principle; that no one is guilty until proven, should not be forgotten. Let us not pre judge anyone, be it a civilian or a military person and extend it, unnecessarily, to undermine respective institutions." He said all systems in Pakistan appear to be in a haste to achieve something, which can have both positive and negative implications.
"Let us take a pause and examine the two fundamental questions; One, are we promoting the rule of law and the Constitution? Two, are we strengthening or weakening the institutions? In the ultimate analysis, all of us would have served Pakistan better if history and our future generations judge us positively," he concluded.