‘Don’t dare to cross limit,’ Shehbaz warns Imran

Zardari and several ministers also condemn comments about Pakistan’s breakup

News Desk June 02, 2022
A combined image of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (L) and Ex-PM Imran Khan. PHOTO: FILE


The political leadership of the country was furious on Thursday over former prime minister Imran Khan’s pessimist view of the national economy, as he spoke of the breakup of the into three pieces in a recent interview.

Several government functionaries, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, as well as leaders of the ruling coalition parties unleashed a tempest of criticism against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman, much of it aired on the social media platforms.

“Do your politics, but don’t dare to cross limits and talk about division of Pakistan,” Prime Minister Shehbaz said in a tweet from Turkey, where he is on a three-day official visit. “While I am in Turkey inking agreements, Imran Niazi is making naked threats against the country.”

In an interview with a private television channel the other day, Imran said that the current political situation was a problem for the country as well as the establishment and warned that if “the right decisions” were not taken, Pakistan would break into three parts.

“Pakistan is going towards a default. If that happens then which institution will be [the worst] hit? The army. After it is hit, what concession will be taken from us? Denuclearisation,” the former prime minister told the interviewer.

“If the establishment doesn’t make the right decisions then I can assure in writing that they and the army will be destroyed because what will become of the country if it goes bankrupt,” he added.

Reacting to the remarks, the prime minister said that the interviews and statements of Imran Khan exposed that he was unsuitable for the public office. “If at all any proof was needed that Niazi is unfit for public office, his latest interview suffices,” Shehbaz said.

In a separate statement shared on the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz’s (PML-N) Twitter account, Shehbaz said Imran’s remarks were proof that the PTI chief was “involved in a conspiracy, not politics”. He added that Imran was spreading chaos.

“This is not a statement but a conspiracy to spark the fire of anarchy and division in the country,” Shehbaz said. “Losing power does not mean that you wage a war against Pakistan, its unity and its institutions,” he added.

Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb strongly condemned Imran’s remarks, saying that his hate speech was against the country and stressing that talking about the division of the country tantamount to speaking enemy’s language and attacking on the Federation.

The “tongue of the one talking about Pakistan breaking apart” would be cut into pieces, Aurangzeb said in a statement on the PML-N Twitter handle. “It is not Imran Khan speaking, but ‘foreign funding’. The truth has been revealed by the conspirator.”

At a press conference, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that Imran’s statement hurt the sentiments of the people of Pakistanis. “If such a statement comes from a person who was the prime minister of Pakistan, then Pakistan needs no enemies,” he said.

“In a hybrid war the conditions of the country are made worse,” the minister told reporters. “What they are doing now, proves that Imran Niazi is playing an important role in this hybrid war of the enemy,” he added.

Condemning Imran’s statement, the minister said since losing power, the former prime minister had lost “his mental balance”. He said that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was safe and the Pakistan Army would protect it.

Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique also reacted angrily to the PTI chief’s remarks. In a series of tweets, Rafique that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was “safe in the hands of those” who started it and carried out nuclear tests”.

Rafique demanded of Imran to elaborate on what right decisions the “army” needed to take. He advised the former prime minister to improve his “manners, behaviour, language and character, before advising the army”.

“Incompetent PTI’s policy of hate, revenge and division brought the country on the brink of destruction,” he said, adding that Imran was “conspiring since 2011 to come into power”. The Railways minister reassured that “Pakistan, God willing, will remain united”.

Earlier, former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-Chairperson Asif Zardari also condemned Imran’s remarks in a late-night statement shared on his party on its Twitter handle.

“No one can talk about fragmenting Pakistan. This is not that language of a Pakistani but that of [Indian prime minister Narendra] Modi’s,” he said. “Imran Khan, power is not everything in this world. Be brave and learn to do politics standing on your own feet,” he advised Imran.

Zardari berated the PTI chief, saying that the “wish of dividing this country into three pieces cannot be fulfilled until we and our future generations live”. Zardari also instructed the PPP to protest Imran’s statement.


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