Pakistan’s Inter Services Public Relations directorate, the public affairs branch for the military, issued an unusually long and highly defensive statement today that summarized the latest Corps Commanders Conference. The rambling statement by the ISPR addressed the bin Laden raid, criticisms of the Army, the relationship with the US and US aid, operations in the tribal areas, and other issues. The statement is peppered with long sections that are in bold.
In one section, the ISPR said that the corps commanders are upset over parliament’s criticism of the Army in the wake of the May 2 raid that killed Osama bin Laden, and issued a thinly veiled threat that the commanders would no long tolerate such statements [emphasis in original]:
Any effort to create divisions between important institutions of the Country is not in our national interest. The participants agreed that all of us should take cognizance of this unfortunate trend and put an end to it.
There is also a fairly lengthy exposition of the Army’s views on the rumored imminent operation in North Waziristan. According to the ISPR, General Kayani, the Chief of Army Staff (and defacto ruler of Pakistan) “informed the participants that the Army was following a well thought out campaign plan and is under no pressure to carry out operations at a particular time.”
The full text of the statement is reproduced below in case this bizarre document is removed from the ISPR website [emphasis in original]:
139th Corps Commanders Conference was held at the GHQ on 9th June 2011. COAS General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani chaired the meeting. The participants were given a comprehensive briefing with special reference to internal security, terrorism, role of the media, the society, and all organs of the state to comprehensively address the ongoing challenges that the Country faces, and military to military relationship with the US. COAS also apprised the Forum about his interaction with various foreign visitors, military as well as civilian, who met him after the Abbotabad incident.
While reviewing the internal security situation, the participants voiced their concern on the blowback of the Abbottabad incident which has resulted in the upsurge in terrorism and consequent loss of innocent lives. It was concluded that all law enforcement agencies, though trying their best to cope with the situation, need to be more focused and proactive and Army will be there to extend all possible support. The participants noted with regret that despite briefing the Joint Session of the Parliament and deferring the ultimate findings to the Commission appointed by the Government, some quarters, because of their perceptual biases, were trying to deliberately run down the Armed Forces and Army in particular. This is an effort to drive a wedge between the Army, different organs of the State and more seriously, the people of Pakistan whose support the Army has always considered vital for its operations against terrorists. COAS noted that in order to confront the present challenges, it is critical to stand united as a Nation. Any effort to create divisions between important institutions of the Country is not in our national interest. The participants agreed that all of us should take cognizance of this unfortunate trend and put an end to it.
The Forum was informed by the COAS that military to military relationship with the US has to be viewed within the larger ambit of bilateral relations between the two countries. It had to be assessed afresh in the backdrop of 2nd May incident as well as the dictates of the Joint Parliamentary Resolution passed on 14th May 2011. In this regard, aspirations of the people of Pakistan also need to be taken into account. In line with the demands of these important factors, Army has drastically cut down the strength of US troops stationed in Pakistan. It needs to be clarified that Army had never accepted any training assistance from the US except for training on the newly inducted weapons and some training assistance for the Frontier Corps only. Even that has ceased now. The Forum was informed by the COAS that economic rather than military aid was more essential for Pakistan. In line with the position taken in Pak-US strategic dialogue in Mar 2010, it is being recommended to the Government that the US funds meant for military assistance to Army, be diverted towards economic aid to Pakistan which can be used for reducing the burden on the common man. Paying tributes to the resilience and sacrifices of valiant people of Pakistan, the participants assured the Nation that Army will do its utmost and continue to sacrifice for the security and well being of the people.
The participants were also informed about the extent of intelligence cooperation with the US. It has been decided to share intelligence strictly on the basis of reciprocity and complete transparency. It has been clearly put across to US intelligence officials that no intelligence agency can be allowed to carry out independent operation on our soil.
News about military operations in NWA also came under discussion. COAS informed the participants that the Army was following a well thought out campaign plan and is under no pressure to carry out operations at a particular time. Future operations, as and when undertaken, will be with political consensus. He, however, called upon the brave people of NWA to evict all foreigners from their soil and take charge of their land and destiny once again. He emphasised that it was wrong, in principle, to allow others to use our land for fighting their battles. This must not be allowed. Army in NWA is committed to supporting the people of NWA in this effort. As far as drone attacks are concerned, Army has repeatedly conveyed to all concerned that these are not acceptable under any circumstances. There is no room for ambiguity in this regard. Government is making necessary efforts in this direction.
COAS also informed the forum that the often quoted figure of US $ 13-15 Billion utilised by the Army in last ten years is misplaced. Under the head of Coalition Support Fund (CSF), against a total sum of US $ 13 Billion expected from the US, only US $ 8.6 Billion have been received by the Government of Pakistan. The Government has further made available only US $ 1.4 Billion to the Army over last ten years. A relatively smaller amount has gone to Navy and PAF as well. The rest i.e. approximately US $ 6 Billion, have been utilised by the Government of Pakistan for budgetary support which ultimately means the people of Pakistan (The figures quoted here have been reconciled with the Ministry of Finance).
Participants of the Conference voiced extreme respect and appreciation for the sacrifices rendered by the troops for the security of the Country. They are putting their life at stake for the noble cause of defending their Motherland. Nothing should distract them from the job at hand. Their reward lay in the hands of Almighty Allah and in the prayers of people of Pakistan. The participants paid special tributes to the Shuhada, their families and the children. They reiterated their resolve to complete their mission and secure future of Pakistan, which undoubtedly lies in an Islamic Republic with a tolerant society in the true spirit of Islam, having no room for terrorism.
Pakistan’s internal situation is the most important factor and it cannot be relegated in priority. Army leadership reaffirmed its resolve to continue supporting the democratic system without any preference to any particular political party. It is also determined to lead the fight on terror in partnership with other law enforcement agencies and in line with the Constitution.
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