Army chief General Raheel Sharif has said that Pakistan desires regional stability and relationships with its neighbours based on equality and mutual respect.
“[But] lasting peace in the region can only come through fair and just resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the will of the Kashmiri people as enshrined in the UN resolutions,” the army chief said on Saturday while addressing the graduating cadets during the 130th Passing-Out Parade at the Pakistan Military Academy, Kakul.
Gen Raheel said coercion and repression of the Kashmiri people would never shake their confidence to ultimately exercise their freedom of choice promised by the international community. “It is our firm belief that the determination of our Kashmiri brethren and collective conscience of the free world will bear fruit and their aspirations will eventually be realised,” he added.
He said the Pakistan Army is fully capable of deterring and defeating aggression across the entire spectrum of threat and yet it persistently seeks peace in the region and beyond. “Sentiments of goodwill and amity notwithstanding, let there be no doubt that any aggression against our beloved country will get a befitting response and no sacrifice will be too great in this sacred cause,” he added.
Talking about the ongoing military operation Zarb-e-Azb – undertaken to root out militants in North Waziristan Agency – he said it was not only an operation but a concept, a resolve and a commitment. “The commitment is to cleanse Pakistan of the scourge of terrorism once and for all and the Pakistan Army is the cutting-edge of this resolve. A resolve that is currently evident in North Waziristan, where the military operation is delivering decisive results,” he added.
He said success of the operation was paving the way for the return of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their areas. “The IDPs will be able to return to their homes sooner than expected,” he said, adding that a new life of peace and prosperity will begin after their return.
General Raheel, however, underscored the need for cohesive, dedicated and timely involvement of all stakeholders and state institutions – in order to bring about durable peace in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata).
He said the rapidly changing geopolitical environment and globally asserting non-state actors had put Pakistan in the centre stage. “In its wake, it has brought numerous challenges and opportunities for Pakistan. This has put enormous burden of responsibility and deliverance on the Pakistan Army,” he said.
He said the army had always lived up to the expectations of the nation and its officers had led from the front, “be it external aggression, internal security, national building tasks or natural calamities such as floods and earthquakes.”
Regarding the situation in Afghanistan, the army chief said Pakistan sincerely prayed that the new political dispensation in Afghanistan brings peace, stability and prosperity to the people of Afghanistan and the region at large. “The Pakistan Army in its capacity will do all that is necessary to support the Afghan Security Forces in every possible manner,” he added.
General Raheel said that like all devoted Pakistanis, the army also wanted the country to prosper and earn its rightful place in the comity of nations, “in line with the vision of the father of nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah”.
He said it is proven fact that the surest way of realising this dream is through unequivocal commitment to true democratic values and rule of law.
“We stand for these virtues in letter and spirit and any reservations about our intent are not only misplaced but also detrimental for the country,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 19th, 2014.
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