Pak Army chief defends Hafiz Saeed

Updated on Dec 20, 2017 09:09 PM IST
Bajwa, speaking at an ‘in-camera session’ of the Senate Committee of the Whole in Islamabad, also said he would resign if the military was found involved in the recent widespread protests by hardline religious groups.
Bajwa also said he would resign if the military was found involved in the recent protests by hardline religious groups.(Reuters File)
Bajwa also said he would resign if the military was found involved in the recent protests by hardline religious groups.(Reuters File)
Hindustan Times, Islamabad | ByHT Correspondent

Pakistan Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa appeared to defend Hafiz Saeed, saying the Mumbai terror attack mastermind had the right to raise the Kashmir issue like every other citizen of the country.

“Like every other Pakistani, Saeed can also take up the Kashmir cause,” Bajwa said on Tuesday during his first briefing to lawmakers since taking charge.

Bajwa’s statement came close on the heels of former president Gen Pervez Musharraf declaring support for Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) terror groups founded by Saeed .

Bajwa, speaking at an ‘in-camera session’ of the Senate Committee of the Whole in Islamabad, also said he would resign if the military was found involved in the recent widespread protests by hardline religious groups which had paralysed the capital for weeks.

“We had no role in the sit-in, Panama leaks, or Dawn leaks. We did not cause any of these issues,” a lawmaker quoted him as saying in reply to a question.

The army chief distanced the military from the country’s political developments while urging the parliamentarians to take a leading role in policy making and not leave a vacuum.

“You are the policymakers. You should come up with policy guidelines. We will follow you,” Pakistani media quoted Bajwa as telling the senators.

Bajwa’s close military aides and the head of the Interservices Intelligence were at the briefing.

He said the country suffered on the foreign policy front as it did not have a full-time foreign minister for more than four years under the incumbent government.

Most senators hailed the army chief’s appearance and said it had cleared many misunderstandings and debunked conspiracy theories that were making rounds. They also appreciated his candidness in responding to their critical questions.

The briefing came days after the National Assembly speaker expressed apprehensions that the assemblies might not complete their five-year term. Senator Mushahid Hussain Syed, who heads the Senate defence committee, said he found the army chief “a straightforward person who played with a straight bat”.

When a senator asked the him about recent newspaper articles by some retired military officers suggesting a presidential form of government, he clarified that the army was bound to follow the Constitution and there was no room for a presidential system in it. He said it could be the individual point of view of any person, but the military had nothing to do with it.

The general also said “We want good relations with our neighbours. We want them to add to our security, nobody should be using their territory against us.” (With inputs from agencies)

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