RAWALPINDI: As the political scene heats up with thegovernment and the opposition drawing battle lines, Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani has said that the army supports the democratic process in the country.

“The priority of a democratic system is welfare of the people, safeguarding their self-respect and establishing a society where justice is equal for all. This will strengthen national security,” Gen Kayani told a gathering in connection with the ‘Martyrs Day’ celebrations at the GHQ on Monday.
He said that all national institutions should work within the limits laid down in the Constitution.
He said the armed forces believed in a strong democratic system and its continuity in the country, whose development and prosperity was linked with the respect of democratic values.
General Kayani said the Constitution had clearly determined the responsibilities and duties of national institutions and “it is imperative to fulfill our responsibilities in such a manner which improves our own and the country’s image.”
Gen Kayani said that campaigns were launched following last year’s events – including the Abbottabad raid and the Salala air raid – to undermine the sacrifices of Pakistan Army and to destabilise the country at the international level.
This created chaos and despondency in the Pakistani nation, he said. However, he added that the armed forces, which draw their strength from the people, are capable of protecting the country’s sovereignty.
These events, Gen Kayani said, highlighted the need to review our relations to make others respect our honour and dignity.
He was referring to the foreign policy guidelines recently approved by Parliament.
The army chief reiterated that the armed forces would follow the policy formed in accordance with national aspirations.
“Our objective as a nation is to strengthen the country,” he added.
Gen Kayani also spoke about the exemplary sacrifices rendered by the Pakistani nation and its security forces in the fight against militancy.
“Despite these sacrifices, our country is still at war,” he said and expressed the hope that the Pakistani nation would emerge victorious from this phase.
He prayed for all those who laid down their lives while fighting militancy and defending their country.
Speaking about dozens of troops trapped in an avalanche in the Giari sector at Siachen Glacier, Gen Kayani assured the families that the ongoing search for the soldiers, who sacrificed their lives for the country, would continue till the last body was retrieved.
(With input from APP)
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2012.