PAKISTAN ARMY SAYS CHIEF DID NOT ASK OFFICERS TO LEARN FROM INDIAN DEMOCRACY

The article originally appeared on India Today.
Here it is bit modified and extended.

The Pakistani army has denied that its chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had asked his officers to emulate the values of Indian democracy. In a tweet, Major Gen Asif Ghafoor, spokesman of the Pakistan armed forces, have said that the ‘news/comments quoting COAS (chief of the army staff)’ address to officers at Rawalpindi regarding book ‘Army and Nation’ is a disinformation’.

Gen Bajwa’s photograph is tagged with the tweet which further clarifies its context with an incomplete caption that reads ‘army officers should learn from Indian democracy, says Pakistan army chief Qamar J…’ – essentially a poor damage control act after Gen Bajwa’s vision for the Pakistani army was widely reported in the Indian media.

On February 13, Pakistan’s newspaper The Nation had published a piece on its new army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa’s vision for the Pakistan’s army as told by him during his first official address to his colleagues in December 2016.

Titled ‘Coordination, not competition, with civilians: The Army Chief’s Glasnost’, among many other things, the article had quoted the Pak army chief saying something that was so unlike Pak army that it caught immediate international attention. Gen Bajwa, in no unequivocal terms, as The Nation piece puts it, conveyed to his colleagues that the Pak army must remain within the constitutional role defined for it and must not meddle in affairs of the civilian government.

Saying a civilian Vs military dichotomy is always ‘counter-productive for a country and the army should have no ‘business in running the government’, he advised his colleagues to read “Army and Nation”, a book written by Yale University professor Steven I Wilkinson, a well received book that details how India has emerged as a successful democracy with civilian supremacy over its military establishment.

Gen Asif Ghafoor’s tweet, that is the first official denial from the Pak army on the issue, looks like a shabby, reluctant attempt to damage control. It might have been driven by this afterthought that the Pak army has always been in control in Pakistan and such views by its army chief may be seen undermining its supremacy in the society. Coming five days later of The Nation piece, the tweet clarification conveys a half-hearted attempt at best that sounds too little, too late. Had it been so alarming, we would have seen a denial the same day the article appeared, like it happened with India’s surgical strike inside Pak-occupied-Kashmir. Within hours, the Pak army had forced its political establishment to toe its line to deny any Indian surgical strike, a lame attempt to save face.

©SantoshChaubey

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