But General Qamar Javed Bajwa reveals that the country’s most powerful institution has decided to stay away from politics.

Pakistan’s outgoing army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa says the army has been illegally meddling in politics for decades and will no longer do so.

In his final speech as army chief on Wednesday, Bajwa defended the country’s most powerful institution, drawing criticism, particularly from former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who accused the army of a role in his April ouster.

At an event at army headquarters in the eastern city of Rawalpindi, the 62-year-old general wondered why the army in neighboring India was not criticized by the public.

“In my opinion, the reason for this is the continued involvement of the military in politics over the last 70 years, which is unconstitutional,” he said. “That is why, since February last year, the army has decided not to interfere in political affairs.”

He added that the military has begun its “catharsis” and expressed hope that political parties will also “examine their behaviour”.

“The reality is that in Pakistan, institutions, political parties and civil society – they have all made mistakes,” Bajwa said. “It’s time we learn from them and move on.”

Bajwa stressed Pakistan’s precarious economic situation and called on all stakeholders to put aside their egos, work together and learn to accept their wins and losses.

The 62-year-old general has been at the helm of the 600,000-strong nuclear-armed army since 2016. He was granted a three-year extension by then Prime Minister Khan in August 2019. He will retire on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif is expected to do so announces his successor the next few days.

In a speech of about 10 minutes, Bajwa devoted much time to the topic of politics, denouncing the deluge of negativity and harsh criticism of the military, which has run the country more than half of the time since independence in 1947.

The military has major interests in the economy and wields significant influence in determining the policy of the South Asian country Foreign Affairs and national security. No prime minister has ever completed his term.

Bajwa admitted that criticism of the military from political parties and the public is their right, but warned against using unworthy words against the military.

“Everyone should keep in mind that there are limits to this patience,” he said. “I want to overlook this aggressive criticism of myself and my army because Pakistan is of the utmost importance to all of us.”

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