RAWALPINDI: The Pakistani Army Monday expressed displeasure over PTI Chairman Imran Khan recent statement against the military and said it was “aghast” over it.
In a public rally in Faisalabad, the PTI chairman called out the government, saying that it was delaying the elections to appoint an army chief of its own and that if a “patriotic chief of army staff comes in, he will not spare the incumbent rulers.”
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), in a statement, said that the army was “aghast” at the defamatory and uncalled-for statements about the senior leadership of the military by the PTI chairman during a Faisalabad rally.
The military’s media wing said that regrettably, an attempt was made to discredit and undermine the senior leadership of the army at a time when the institution was laying lives for the “security and safety of the people every day”.
The army said that senior politicians trying to stir controversies over the appointment of the COAS, the procedure for which is well-defined in the Constitution, is “most unfortunate and disappointing”.
The ISPR said the senior leadership of the army has decades-long impeccable and meritorious service to prove its “patriotic and professional credentials beyond any doubt”.
Politicising the senior leadership of the Pakistan Army and scandalising the process of selection of the COAS is neither in the interest of the state of Pakistan nor of the institution, it noted.
“Pakistan Army reiterates its commitment to uphold[ing] the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” the military’s media wing added.
Nawaz, Zardari ‘fear’ patriotic army chief
In his speech at a jalsa in Faisalabad this Sunday, the PTI chairman said the coalition government was stalling the elections as they wanted to “appoint an army chief of their own choice.”
The PTI chairman said that PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and former premier Nawaz Sharif “feared” a strong and patriotic army chief, who could hold them accountable for the looted money they had stashed abroad.
The former prime minister said a new army chief was going to be appointed in November this year, and they [Zaradri and Nawaz] jointly wanted to appoint a favourite [general] as the next army chief.
Both have committed corruption worth billions, and they wanted to appoint an army chief who could protect them and their corruption, Imran Khan alleged.
The PTI chair alleged that PM Shehbaz, his brother Nawaz, and Zardari had been involved in laundering the public money, and the two families had been looting the national exchequer for the last 30 years.
Ruling coalition castigates Imran Khan
Hours before the military’s response, the ruling coalition had castigated the PTI chairman for his remarks at the Faisalabad jalsa.
In a joint statement, the ruling coalition condemned Khan’s public meeting for spreading hatred against the Pakistan Army and its leadership and making “sensitive professional matters” controversial.
The entire nation is battling floods, while the PTI chairman is consumed by a thirst for revenge and his pride, the statement said, noting that despite the cataclysmic floods, Khan is targetting the armed forces.
The ruling partners said that the serious allegations being levelled against the military are for three reasons: to disturb the country’s economy, to move Pakistan’s economy to a path that it becomes like that of Sri Lanka, and foster enmity between the nation and the armed forces.
“With the power of the Constitution and law, we will thwart this nefarious conspiracy and deal with the conspirators in line with the constitution and law,” the statement said.
IHC questions Khan’s intentions
In another related development earlier in the day, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Athar Minallah — during a hearing against PEMRA — asked whether Khan wanted to hurt the morale of the armed forces by delivering anti-military speeches.
“Did you hear Imran Khan’s speech from yesterday? Do political leaders deliver such speeches? Will everything be put at stake just for the sake of a ‘Game of Thrones’?” the IHC CJ asked Khan’s counsel, making a reference to the popular television drama in which nine noble families wage war against each other to gain control over a mythical land.
IHC CJ Minallah said that the armed forces lay their lives for the nation and in a case where someone is involved in illegal activity, everyone should not be criticised over it.
“Hold yourself accountable for your actions. You [Khan] want to issue statements as per your wishes and don’t want the regulator to do its job?”