Chief of Army Staff Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani made a rare public statement on Wednesday, saying that the Mehran Bank scandal was a 20-year old issue and “if you want to fight with history in this context, it’s your choice to do so. However, establishing institutions require a lot of hard work and the media should be careful ... that their words do not undermine these [institutions].”
Speaking to senior journalists at a farewell reception given in honour of Air Chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman at the Prime Minister House, he said that he will not hold a meeting with any senior US military officer including Gen Mattis before the joint session of Parliament scheduled for March 17. He categorically said only Parliament will decide about the resumption of Nato supplies.
The COAS also said that no further cantonments are going to be established in Balochistan. He said that only the Frontier Constabulary is performing its duties there. He added that about 10,000 young people were recruited into the armed forces from Balochistan who were about to complete their training.
Replying to a question regarding the alleged involvement of intelligence agencies in missing persons cases, he said that institutions are not made easily – adding, however, that they are also not above criticism. Gen Kayani added that one should be careful that while criticising one must not undermine national institutions or organisations.
The COAS also said that only 47 people are missing in Balochistan. He defended the army, saying its activities had helped improve the standard of living for the people of Balochistan. “Even now, there are Baloch who have seen a 10 rupee currency note for the first time in their lives,’ a sombre Kayani told journalists.
Using the US as an example, the COAS said that the American army was not criticised by its people as harshly as the Pakistan Army was criticised by Pakistanis. The US media is careful in reporting events of US casualties in Afghanistan, for example. He said that the ruthless criticism of ISI in Pakistan was far higher than any criticism made on RAW, Mosad or the CIA in India, Israel or USA.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2012.
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