PTI questions military’s ‘apolitical’ credentials

Senior leadership term presser by DG ISI an attempt to open a new Pandora's box

Imran Adnan October 27, 2022
Asad Umer is holding the press conference in Lahore. SCREENGRAB


The senior leadership of the Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) contradicted on Thursday the presser of the senior military officers and termed it an attempt to open a new Pandora's box.

Senior PTI leaders Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, and Shireen Mazari held a joint news conference in Lahore, hours after an unusual joint presser by Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt-Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum and Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Lt-Gen Babar Iftikhar.

PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that the recent news conference had further complicated the situation, while referring to the part of the military officers’ presser about the institution’s decision to stay apolitical.

“We think a new Pandora box has been opened,” Qureshi said. “It is always our wish that every institution should play its role as defined in the Constitution then it would be easier and no difficulty arises,” he added.

Responding to PTI leader Faisal Vawda’s press conference on Wednesday, Qureshi underscored that all PTI’s public gatherings and rallies in the past had been peaceful.

“As per our tradition, Friday’s (today’s) ‘Haqeeqi Azadi [real freedom] march’ will be peaceful and within the limits of the law. On May 25, the government inflicted violence on the PTI’s caravan but it would not be repeated this time.”

Qureshi called on the people to actively participate in the long march, promising that it would be peaceful.

Countering Vawda’s claims, Qureshi said that his news conference was a failed attempt to spread fear among the masses and sabotage the party’s long march. It was a weak attempt which badly failed.

Read PTI finalises long march schedule

“Interestingly, it [Vawda’s news conference] was telecast live on state television,” he pointed out. He also said that it was being stated that the PTI was trying to create political instability in the country.

“Contrary to the claim, we are offering solution to the current problem. We believe that political instability has arrived and the PTI is offering a democratic solution, which is free and fair elections in the country,” he maintained.

Responding to the military’s presser, PTI Secretary-General Asad Umar said that “Imran Khan owned both the army and the country”, adding: “But will he agree with every decision taken by the army?”

“You may disagree with the criticism but in Imran Khan’s point of view, these are the things that if followed, would lead to the betterment of the army and the country. It is his constitutional right to express his opinion,” he underlined.

Umar also clarified that the PTI chairman had never said anything that would weaken the army. “So these things should be reviewed, maybe there is a need for consideration,” he added.

Imran had never made any unconstitutional demands in backdoor talks, Umar said. “Matters discussed behind closed doors are no secret. Imran Khan has discussed them all in public gatherings and news conferences,” he added.

“All these demands and talks are in front of the public,” Umar stressed. He then posed a question: “If you see him [Imran] as a traitor, then why do you meet him through the backdoor?”

However, responding to another question, Umar confirmed meetings on extension for Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa. However, he added that if such talks behind closed doors were brought into the open then “who knows what talks Imran Khan will start bringing out.”

PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said that he was shocked at the DG ISI’s press conference. “If political leaders hold press conferences, we can respond to them, but at a press conference held by institutions there is a certain level of respect and thus we cannot respond to them,” he added.

Read COAS Gen Bajwa was offered 'indefinite extension' in March, claims DG ISI at unprecedented presser

He was of the view that along with the respect for the institutions, it was also important to respect the people’s choices. “We have to decide whether we want to run Pakistan's democratic norms or become a country like Burma. Let the people of Pakistan decide their fate and not the elite behind closed doors.”

Speaking about the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya earlier this week, Chaudhry said that the threats received by the deceased were not hidden from anybody, as he had also informed the president about them in a letter.

“He did not leave Pakistan on the directions of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa [K-P] government; he left Pakistan because he was not being allowed to speak”.

Earlier, the senior PTI leaders joined the party Chairman Imran Khan in offering funeral prayer in absentia for Arshad Sharif at the Chief Minister Secretariat.


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