ISLAMABAD: Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Monday said he wanted enhanced interaction with parliament.
He was responding to questions raised by members of defence committees of the National Assembly and Senate who were visiting the General Headquarters (GHQ) for a briefing on military operations.
“The delegation…was given a detailed briefing on the evolving security environment including the situation at the borders and Pakistan’s Army efforts for peace and security. The delegation also had an interactive session with General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Chief of Army Staff (COAS),” the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a press statement.
The parliamentarians had raised many of the oft-discussed issues including security operations, military courts, defence budget, engagement with the United States, tensions with India, problems in relations with Afghanistan, and civil-military relations. The interactive session, which was originally planned for 30 minutes, went on for nearly three hours.
Members of defence committees of National Assembly and Senate have interactive session with army chief at GHQ
One of the participants in the meeting said that the engagement was meant to showcase the army’s achievements and to highlight the challenges it was facing.
Gen Bajwa told the parliamentarians that he was an ardent supporter of democracy and believed in the supremacy of parliament. The army chief said he was ready to appear before the defence committee or any ‘committee of the whole House’ and answer any queries that the parliamentarians might have.
He dismissed rumours of the army’s alleged role in the Panama Papers case as unfounded. One of the parliamentarians, quoting the army chief, said the military had no role in ex-prime minister Nawaz Sharif’s ouster, and for him, the current prime minister was as good as the previous one.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, during a brief stay in London before heading out to New York for the UN General Assembly session, told media that conspiracies against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government were continuing. Like his predecessor, he did not elaborate.
During his interaction with the parliamentarians, Gen Bajwa disclosed that he had felicitated Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif over the PML-N’s victory in NA-120 (Lahore) by-poll in which Begum Kulsoom Nawaz, spouse of the ousted prime minister, was elected on the National Assembly seat vacated by her husband following his disqualification by the Supreme Court.
Talking about the perception that the defence budget consumed a major portion of national resources, the general said, it comprised nearly 18 per cent of the total budgetary outlay. He added that more money was required, particularly in view of certain acquisitions that had to be made, some of which were overdue.
On the subject of foreign relations, he underscored that putting the house in order was a pre-requisite for getting a respectful position in the comity of nations. As a principle, he said, Pakistan desired good relations with all other countries especially the neighbours.
According to the press statement issued by the ISPR: “The session concluded with the resolve to continue our struggle against the menace of violent extremism through a synergetic, whole-of-the-nation approach based on the principle of ‘collective potential and shared responsibility.”
Published in Dawn