RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif said on Monday that the army respects all the institutions of the country but will also preserve its own dignity and institutional pride at all costs, stated an official press release.
The army chief was addressing his officers at Special Services Group (SSG) headquarters in Tarbela where he made these remarks in response to soldiers’ concerns over “undue criticism of the [army] in recent days.”
The criticism he referred to in his statement is most likely related to the treason trial of former army chief and president Pervez Musharraf. It was earlier reported that General Raheel had advised the government to let Musharraf go abroad for his medical treatment and to look after his ailing mother.
During his visit to the SSG headquarters, the army chief said Pakistan Army has contributed immensely towards national security and nation building and will continue to deliver on its mission.
“The army never has and never will shy away from rendering any sacrifice in ensuring a formidable defense and security of the motherland,” he was quoted as saying in the ISPR press release.
Last month, a special court indicted Musharraf on five counts of treason over his suspension of the constitution and imposition of emergency rule in 2007, when he was trying to extend his rule.
Musharraf’s indictment has broken an unwritten rule that the top ranks of the military are untouchable. He has pleaded not guilty and faces the death penalty if convicted.
Musharraf was forced to step down as president in 2008 after street protests spearheaded by the judiciary and an election in which his political supporters fared poorly against a pro-democracy party.
He returned to Pakistan in March 2013 after nearly four years of self-imposed exile to contest a general election in May that year but was disqualified because of court cases pending against him.
Since then, he has faced a series of charges including murder in connection with the assassination in 2007 of former prime minister Benazir Bhutto.
Musharraf has denied all the charges, dismissing them as politically motivated, and is living under house arrest in his farmhouse on the outskirts of Islamabad.