The country’s military top brass on Tuesday took note of the recent criticism directed at the institution on social media by supporters of ousted prime minister Imran Khan, and expressed complete confidence in the Pakistan Army’s leadership’s “well-considered stance to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law”.
The resolve was expressed during the 79th Formation Commanders’ Conference held at the General Headquarters that was attended by the army’s corps commanders, principal staff officers and all formation commanders. Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa presided over the session.
“The forum took note of the recent propaganda campaign by some quarters to malign [the] Pakistan Army and create division between the institution and society.
“National security of Pakistan is sacrosanct. Pakistan Army has always stood by the state institutions to guard it and always will, without any compromise,” said a statement issued by the military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
It added that the forum expressed “complete confidence in the leadership’s well-considered stance to uphold the Constitution and rule of law at all costs”.
Apart from taking notice of the social media developments, the army huddle was briefed on professional matters, national security challenges, and measures being undertaken to counter traditional and non-traditional threats.
“COAS expressed satisfaction over operational preparedness of formations and response mechanism to deal with emerging challenges. Forum paid rich tribute to the supreme sacrifices of officers and men to ensure [the] security of borders and safety of masses,” the ISPR said.
It said the army was aware of its responsibilities and would continue to defend the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan against all internal and external threats under all circumstances.
The Pakistani military has come under criticism this week, especially in the wake of Imran Khan’s ouster from power through a successful vote of no-confidence. Trends against the armed forces and its leadership have seen intense activity on social media platforms such as Twitter.
The PTI leaders have distanced themselves from social media posts against state institutions. However, at the same time, the official Twitter handle of the PTI has urged party activists to report to the party if they or anyone they know “is getting threats or targeted for political victimisation by anyone.”
After PTI leader Imran Khan was voted out as the prime minister by the National Assembly on Saturday, PTI activists have condemned the move in tens of thousands of tweets, saying that they would not accept, what they call “the imported government” under Shehbaz Sharif.
The PTI has announced a series of protests across the country that will be addressed by Imran Khan and other leaders. The first protest is being held in Peshawar on Wednesday.
On Sunday night, thousands of PTI activists held demonstrations in multiple cities against Khan’s removal.
Some of the men, identifying themselves to be PTI supporters, posted videos that show them tearing or burning Pakistan passports and the national flag. It could not be independently verified if the men were indeed Pakistani nationals and PTI workers.
One video shows a group of men, some of whom speak in an American accent, setting Pakistani passports on fire.
PTI chief Imran Khan claims that the United States hatched a conspiracy to oust him.
FIA CRACKS DOWN ON PROPAGANDA PUSHERS
Meanwhile, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has arrested a “mastermind” and at least six other members of his network for launching a Twitter trend against the Pakistan Army.
The men are allegedly affiliated with the former ruling party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
According to reports, the FIA first raided a location in the Sabzazar area of Lahore to arrest the “mastermind,” identified as Maqsood Arif. He was behind over 2,100 Twitter accounts involved in a social media propaganda campaign against the Pakistan Army and the chief of army staff (COAS).
During interrogation, Maqsood named other members of his network and the agency arrested another six people from different cities. Two of the accused were arrested from Islamabad and one each from Lahore, Multan, Karachi, and Faisalabad.
The 2,100 Twitter accounts had fired a total of 200,000 tweets against the Pakistan Army.
Meanwhile, the FIA Cybercrimes director has said at an internal briefing that at least 50,000 web pages have been identified in connection with the propaganda campaign against the Pakistan Army and judiciary and many of these pages are being operated from abroad.
The FIA director-general on Tuesday held a key meeting at the FIA headquarters to address the issue.