RAWALPINDI/Peshawar - Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa said yesterday that Pakistan had come out of difficult times and good days were about to come.

Speaking at an investiture ceremony here at the General Headquarters (GHQ), the COAS warned the elements who wanted to hurt the integrity of Pakistan. “It has only been a short period that peace has returned to Fata (Federally-Administered Tribal Areas), and some people have started a movement there. There are some people, inside and outside (the country), who are after Pakistan’s integrity. We want to tell them that no matter what you do, you can bring no harm to Pakistan as long as the nation is standing behind its armed forces.”

The COAS paid rich tributes to the families of martyrs and war heroes of the country. “No medal can be the substitute of martyrs’ sacrifices. And no medal or a worldly thing can decrease the grief of their heirs. They are the people, due to whose sacrifices we have moved towards peace,” he said.

He said Pakistan was moving towards peace with each passing day and all this was due to the sacrifices of martyrs, who were the real heroes of Pakistan.

The army chief urged that the sacrifices of the martyrs should never be forgotten. “Nations, who forget the sacrifices of their martyrs and their (martyrs’) heirs can no longer exist,” he said.

He asked the young officers to always remember the brave officers, who sacrificed their lives for the country. “They are part of our history. We should never forget them and their families.”

The army chief said whenever he goes outside, he is asked how Pakistan has managed to wipe out terrorists from its soil, while they were wreaking havoc across the world.

“I tell them that till the time the Pakistani nation will keep on producing such mothers, daughters and wives who are ready to sacrifice their sons, fathers and husbands for this country, no one can defeat it.”

“I salute mothers, daughters, wives, and parents (of the martyrs),” he said.

General Bajwa also conferred military awards to army personnel for acts of gallantry during operations in an investiture ceremony held at General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi.

A large number of military officials and relatives of Shuhada and Ghazis attended the ceremony, said a statement issued here by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

As many as 32 officers were awarded Sitar-e-Imtiaz, two officers were awarded Tamgha-e-Jurat, 33 were awarded Tamgha-e-Bisalat and four officers/soldiers were awarded United Nations (UN) medal. Medals of Shuhada were received by their family members.

Meanwhile, interacting with notables of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa including senators, MNAs, businessmen, lawyers, academia and others in Peshawar on Thursday, Gen Bajwa said the nation had successfully passed through some difficult times of fighting extremism and terrorism but still much was left to be done.

He shared his candid thoughts about security environment, achievements in war against terrorism, challenges and way forward.

COAS General Bajwa hailed the courage and resilience of the people of Pakistan especially of Fata and KP being major victim of terrorism and said that army fully supported socio-economic development in affected areas. He said that it was the right time to keep moving forward unitedly towards enduring peace and stability.

Talking about issues relating to checkposts and unexploded ordnance, the COAS said that measures to facilitate general public at checkposts without compromising security and clearance of unexploded ordnance were already in process on completion of kinetic operations. “No one is more interested than security forces to have such peaceful environment which allows their complete de-induction, he said adding, however, threat is still residing across the border and some disorganised residual potential including the ones morphed into Afghan refugees. “Therefore we still need to move with caution.”

The army chief said, “Notwithstanding the genuine problems of the peaceful citizens, our concern is that no anti-state agenda in the garb of engineered protests aimed at reversing the gains, achieved at heavy cost in blood and national exchequer, succeeds.” He said that security of innocent citizens and defence of motherland comes first and foremost. He reiterated that long term dividend of peace was linked to earliest mainstreaming of Fata.

Participants also interacted with the COAS and expressed their views candidly. They acknowledged contributions and sacrifices of security forces and desired that Pakistan continues to progress on positive trajectory of peace and prosperity.

General Bajwa assured the notables that Pakistan Army as part of state was determined to root out extremism and terrorism on the premise that prerogative of use of force rested with state alone. “Our vision is peaceful Pakistan and peaceful region and our efforts are geared towards that end,” he added.

Corps Commander Peshawar and field commanders were also present on the occasion.



Good days about to come: COAS