• Army chief says every military official “puts duty and responsibility first”.
  • A strong army is the guarantor of a country’s security and unity, he says.
  • Several officials awarded Sitara-e-Imtiaz, Tamgha-i-Basalat, UN medals.

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir emphasised Monday that “every soldier and officer of the armed forces put his duty and responsibilities first regardless of regional, linguistic, and political prejudices and distinctions”.

A strong army is the guarantor of a country’s security and unity, he underscored while addressing an award ceremony for martyrs and officials at the General Headquarters (GHQ) Rawalpindi.

In a statement, the military’s media affairs wing said that 51 officials were awarded the Sitara-e-Imtiaz (military), 22 were awarded the Tamgha-i-Basalat and two officials were awarded special United Nations medals.

They were awarded for their “acts of gallantry during operations and meritorious services rendered to the nation”.

A large number of senior army officials and families of martyrs attended the event.

“Undoubtedly, we are living in a free atmosphere due to the martyrs’ sense of duty and their great sacrifices,” Gen Munir said. He termed the martyrs’ sacrifices and officials’ services a “valuable asset” and “source of pride” for the country.

“The Pakistan Army, as an institution, always remembers every individual associated with the army and his family, and our relationship as a family is a proud and exemplary one,” the COAS said.

He condemned the attacks on military installations and martyrs’ monuments — that were carried out by enraged Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) protesters in days-long riots following the arrest of chairman Imran Khan — and termed them “extremely saddening and intolerable”.

He also announced that May 25 would be marked as “Pakistan Martyrs’ Day”.

The army chief’s comments come days after the military refuted rumours of disunity in its ranks. During the violent protests that only simmered down after Khan’s release, reports circulated that army officers had resigned due to the ongoing chaos.

Snubbing those reports, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry had told Geo News’ Shahzeb Khanzada, “despite all-out efforts of internal miscreants and external enemies, the army remains united under Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir.”

“The dreams of creating division within the army will remain dreams. Neither anyone has resigned nor disobeyed any order,” the army’s spokesperson added.

After the supporters attacked army installations, the ISPR said that May 9, 2023 — the day when chaos gripped the nation following Khan’s arrest — would go down in history as a “dark chapter”.

The military also announced that all those who had vandalised military installations, including the Lahore Corps Commanders House and the GHQ entrance, would be tried under the Pakistan Army Act and the Official Secret Act. 

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