Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said it is his dream to see free, fair and transparent elections in the country, dismissing reports that the security establishment was pushing for a delay in the democratic exercise.
In an informal chat with a group of senior journalists in the garrison city of Rawalpindi on Sunday, Gen Kayani insisted that the army would support parliamentary polls to take place on time. “The army does not have any intention to derail the democratic process,” he was quoted as saying by a senior military official who was present at the interaction.
The army chief’s rare statement appears to be aimed at dispelling the impression that the army was clandestinely making efforts to seek a technocratic set-up instead of elections, due in May this year.
This is the second time in a week that the army has sought to quash such rumours. Last week, the chief military spokesperson also issued a similar statement insisting that the army would not benefit in any way whatsoever if the elections were delayed.
Army chief Gen Kayani told journalists that ever since he took over charge, his actions have proved that the security establishment had no plans to interfere in political matters. “It is my dream that free, fair and transparent elections take place on time,” he said.
Gen Kayani said he assured Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Justice (retd) Fakhruddin G Ebrahim in a recent meeting of the army’s all-out support for transparent polls.
He also spoke on the current unrest in Balochistan, saying the ongoing situation must not impede the political process there. “It is important that widely representative elections should take place in Balochistan along with the rest of the country,” he emphasised. His remarks were apparently in reference to the boycott of the 2008 elections by Balochistan’s nationalist parties.
‘Pakistan’s stand on Afghanistan vindicated’
Gen Kayani also spoke about the Afghan endgame and efforts by Pakistan to seek a political solution to the decade-long conflict.
He claimed that the international community had finally endorsed Pakistan’s view that an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process was the best solution to ensure a smooth political transition in the war-torn country.
“We are no more saying that Pakistan wants a friendly government in Afghanistan. We want a peaceful and durable political dispensation in Afghanistan,” Gen Kayani said. “Once you have a stable and peaceful government there, Kabul will certainly have friendly relations with Islamabad.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 27th, 2013.