The Pakistan Army has strongly denied allegations that it was behind the ongoing protests by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) of Dr Tahirul Qadri.
This came after dissident PTI president Javed Hashmi alleged that the anti-government campaign was ‘scripted’, though he didn’t explicitly say who the scriptwriter was. Nevertheless he said that the party leaders were under the impression that the army was supporting the PTI.
However, the military’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), categorically rejected the assertions that the army and the ISI were backing the PTI/PAT in any way in the current political standoff.
“The army is an apolitical institution and has expressed its unequivocal support for democracy at numerous occasions. It is unfortunate that Army is dragged into such controversies,” it added. “Integrity and unity of the army is its strength which it upholds with pride.”
Javed Hashmi walked out of the PTI’s protest sit-in on Sunday, accusing the party chairman of ‘overruling’ a unanimous decision of the core committee and giving marching orders to supporters towards the Prime Minister House. He also said that Imran gave the marching orders after receiving a ‘message from somewhere’.
The government also denied the army was behind the protesting parties. Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said that the army should not be dragged into political matters.
“The army’s support for democracy is evident from yesterday’s statement [of the ISPR],” Asif told Express News by phone. He was referring to a statement issued after a meeting of the corps commanders in which the army reaffirmed its support for democracy.
Asked about Hashmi’s parting of ways with Imran, the defence minister said it was the result of an infighting in the PTI which has come to the fore, giving the government some respite. He refused to comment on Hashmi’s revelations but said that no institution was involved with the PTI.
Asif said that the army was called out in the federal capital under Article 245 of the Constitution and it has been acting in accordance with it.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2014.