Asif warns against politics in army chief’s appointment

Minister says all accounts used in anti-army campaigns linked to PTI


Khalid Mehmood August 17, 2022
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif addressing press conference in Islamabad. SCREENGRAB

ISLAMABAD:

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif warned on Wednesday against doing politics on the appointment of army chief, saying that the matter had not yet been taken up.

He urged politicians to sit together and discuss national issues.

Addressing a news conference in the federal capital, the minister said that the talk of the return of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to Swat could not be denied. However, he rejected the notion that the outlawed group was being revived there.

Asif said that a “negative” social media campaign against the tragic helicopter crash in Lasbela, Balochistan during the flood relief operations earlier this month was a “joint project” of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and India against the Pakistan Army.

“The entire nation is saddened by the tragic incident. The helicopter crash happened due to bad weather, but the PTI social media team, which had Indian support, launched a campaign against the Pakistan Army,” Asif told reporters.

“There were 529 accounts from Pakistan, 30 from India and 33 from other countries,” he said, citing investigation into the abhorring social media campaign against the martyrs in the crash.

“All the [social media] accounts that came out are related to the PTI. They also got the support of Indians. The PTI is advancing India's interests,” the minister added. Responding to a question, Asif said that the “data is confirmed” and validated.

He said that the results of the inquiry would be placed before the courts, so that those involved in the campaign could be punished under the law. “The results of the investigation will be revealed soon,” he said.

Also read: Arrests likely following malicious anti-military hate campaign inquiry

“The results of the investigation into Gill’s case would reveal whether or not the case was handled properly,” he said. Responding to another question, the minister said that if the action was taken against Gill for his remarks on the TV channel, the action would also be taken against the channel itself.

The minister fired a broadside against the PTI Chairman Imran Khan, saying that he went too far after losing power in a no-confidence motion in April this year. The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) findings showed how Imran used charity money for political purposes.

“Funds were collected in Shaukat Khanum's [cancer hospital] name, from which he is trying to divert attention. No political party has ever used this kind of out-of-bounds language in politics,” he said. He urged Imran to appear before the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) in the foreign funding probe.

“After the story of the United States conspiracy, a lobbyist was hired for $25,000. Imran forgot his own statements against the army while sitting in the UK and in India in the 1990s. For days Imran kept checking the reaction of Gill's statement and now he realized that Gill shouldn’t have said that.”

 

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