Army in lot of anger over criticism against Gen Bajwa by opposition; says Imran Khan

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an 11-party opposition alliance, was trying to put pressure on the army in the hopes of creating conflict between the Pakistan Army and the federal government so they could get an NRO, but that would never be granted.

Talking to a private news channel on Friday, the premier said that this tactic had been tried in the past, but maintained that giving NRO to those who looted the national exchequer would be a great dishonesty with the nation.

He added that there is “a lot of anger” within the army over the verbal attacks of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif and his party against the top military leadership. He added that the army was tolerating their statements as Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa was a percipient person who could exercise good judgment.

Imran Khan

“I praise Gen Bajwa today. To attack an army chief in this manner; a reaction comes from the army,” PM Imran said, referring to the manner in which Nawaz would accuse the military leadership of creating a “state above a state” during the various PDM rallies. Nawaz, who had addressed the rallies virtually from London, had also accused COAS Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) DG Lt Gen Faiz Hameed of having rigged the 2018 general elections to “impose the incompetent Imran Khan” on the country.

“There is composure in [Army Chief Bajwa], that is why he is tolerating this. There would be a big reaction if somebody else was leading the army,” the premier added. “Appealing to the army to remove the democratically elected government would be classified as treason under Article 6 of the Constitution”.

PM Imran also alleged that the army had helped create Nawaz. He said that the PML-N supremo was “manufactured by the army against the PPP”. Furthermore, Imran claimed that he himself had also been called by former military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq in 1988, wherein the latter wanted to make the former prime minister.

The premier said that the establishment helped place Nawaz in office in 2013, but these ties had become strained after the establishment would not support him in the 2018 elections. “The opposition’s second demand is that if the army and ISI chiefs do not remove me, then the army should remove them [the chiefs of army and ISI],” he added.

He also said that it would be better for Pakistan if opposition resigns from the parliament, referring to their recent claims of tendering their resignations from the National and provincial assemblies.

Regarding to their plan to hold a long march to the federal capital, PM Imran called himself a “long march specialist” and challenged the opposition, saying that he would consider resigning if they could spend even one week in Islamabad.

He said that although the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) had spent 126 days staging a sit-in against the then-PML-N government, the opposition would not be able to do so for even seven days “because people will not walk over to join them”.

While reiterating his stance against giving the opposition an NRO, PM Imran said that the ruling party had made no case against them, but that the “PPP [Pakistan People’s Party] and PML-N made cases against each other”.

He added that there is no need for an amendment to the Constitution for open voting in the Senate elections. The prime minister said that the government will move the Supreme Court (SC) for interpretation of Constitution in this regard.