ISLAMABAD: The army on Sunday distanced itself from the ongoing Panamagate saga, which may seal the political fate of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, as it strongly dismissed speculations that it was playing any role in destabilising the government.
“To say that the army is involved in any conspiracy, I don’t think this question merits a response,” said the chief military spokesperson at a news briefing where he was asked to comment on speculation that the army might be behind the political crisis whipped up by the JIT’s damning report on the Sharif family’s offshore assets.
Although the briefing was primarily meant to announce the launch of a ground offensive in Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency, Major General Asif Ghafoor, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), had to address a number of questions related to the JIT findings.
Visibly reluctant to answer all such questions, Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor was cautious and insisted that the army had no direct role in the JIT.
He explained that the two members from the security establishment who were part of the six-member JIT were working directly under the Supreme Court supervision.
“They [ISI and MI officials] performed their duties professionally and honestly,” he said. “Now, it is up to the Supreme Court… it is a sub judice matter and I don’t want to comment beyond that,” he added.
When asked a pointed question that whether the army would come to the aid of the Supreme Court if any untoward situation arose, he dismissed it as speculative but added: “The army is part of Pakistan and every Pakistani has a duty to follow the Constitution and law.”
He also emphasised that the army was only looking to play its role as far as peace and stability of the country was concerned.
To a question about the anti-army propaganda on social media, Maj Gen Ghafoor said everyone had the freedom to express his/her views. However, he added that no patriotic Pakistani would become part of campaign against their own armed forces.
“Those who are part of such a campaign are not Pakistanis or doing it under foreign influence,” he said, adding that such elements were being dealt with by the government through cybercrime laws.
This was the first formal reaction from the army since the JIT submitted its 256-page report in the Supreme Court last week.
The report is seen as damning indictment of the Sharif family, who has been accused of hiding their actual wealth. The report found a significant gap between their wealth and known sources of income – a charge which may lead to his disqualification.
Since the JIT report was made public, the ruling party members directly and indirectly have been pointing fingers at the security establishment for being behind its findings.
Some of the members openly questioned as to how the JIT could complete its task in 60 days by collecting all the evidence. The ruling party suspects that the security agencies might have played a role.
Opposition parties have challenged the government to expose the conspirators while demanding the prime minister to step down.
Sharif insists the charges against him are a piece of trash and hence refuses to give in to the ‘clique of conspirators’. His fate, however, is effectively in the hands of the Supreme Court, which is set to resume the crucial proceedings today (Monday).