Lettergate scam:
Opposition asks Army,
ISI chiefs to share
‘evidence of treason’

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ISLAMABAD: Opposition Leader Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman asked the military authorities on Monday to clear their position on the government claim that the National Security Committee (NSC) had declared the opposition’s resolution a “part of foreign agenda”.

Opposition parties have also drawn the attention of the judiciary and military establishment towards the fact that Deputy Speaker Qasim Suri had, in a ruling to reject their no-trust motion, summarily declared 197 members of the National Assembly “traitors”.

ISLAMABAD: Opposition leader Shahbaz Hussain talking to reporters outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Besides, two major opposition parties PML-N and PPP, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl), Awami National Party (ANP) and the Balochistan National Party-Mengal (BNP-P), too, have expressed concern over Imran Khan’s move to declare them “traitors” in an effort to “justify his coup” and build a new narrative for next elections.

“Ex-PM Imran Khan is using foreign conspiracy to justify his coup. Will @OfficialDGISPR clarify did NSC meeting declare the 197 members of the NA traitors and part of a foreign plot? Can foreign official or defence ministry produce any official correspondence between [March] 7-27th on foreign sazish (conspiracy),” tweeted Mr Bhutto-Zardari hours after addressing a news conference with other leaders of the joint opposition.

“Surely, a plot of this scale would have been uncovered by our own intelligence agencies and other institutions [and] not just [by] an ambassador’s cable,” the PPP chairman wrote, tweeting that Imran’s ego was not more important than Pakistan.

Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, while addressing a presser along with other opposition leaders earlier in day had urged the Supreme Court to stop “Imran Khan’s coup” to address the political crisis in the country. For the judiciary, it was the best opportunity to remove “blot” on its face due to its past role, he said before quickly adding that all institutions including the parliament had to remove the blot on them.

He said April 4 marked the day of the “judicial murder” of ex-premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. “The judiciary failed to provide us justice. Our presidential reference [on Bhutto’s case] is still pending. The court couldn’t stop Zia’s coup, it couldn’t stop Musharraf’s coup … But we are requesting you: stop Imran Khan’s coup,” he appealed to the judiciary.

“Your decision will write the future of the country. It will decide whether our constitution is just a piece of paper or a document that protects the integrity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” he told the presser shortly before the hearing of suo motu notice of the constitutional crisis by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial-led bench.

‘Minutes be made public’

PML-N information secretary Marriyum Aurangzeb demanded, “Minutes of the NSC meeting should be made public.”

On the occasion, PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif said parliamentary proceedings were protected under Article 69 but asked if no one could be held accountable for the violation of law and Constitution.

Equating Mr Khan’s April 3, 2022 acts with those taken by former military ruler Pervez Musharraf when he imposed a state of emergency on Nov 3, 2007, Mr Shehbaz said he imposed a “civilian martial law” in the country for all practical purposes. What happened in the NA session on Sunday was a “planned conspiracy”, he said, wondering how all of a sudden all 197 lawmakers became “traitors” on the day of voting.

“On March 24, the speaker had granted leave to the no-confidence motion. If there was an objection under Article 5, why was the leave granted?” he questioned. The assembly had a system and legal branch and the speaker had tabled the agenda item in Parliament after completing all the legal procedures, otherwise he would have rejected it in his office, he said.

He also wondered how the former Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, who had sent the “so-called cable”, had remained in touch with the US government and tweeted a thank you note for the US government after receiving the “threats” from the US. He asked why another meeting was called on March 16 if ‘threat’ about the regime change was conveyed to him in a March 7 meeting. “If a threat letter was received on March 7, why wasn’t Article 5 brought up in the March 24 session of the National Assembly?” he asked.

Political suicide

MQM’s Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui called for formation of a judicial commission to probe the foreign conspiracy allegations. He said Mr Khan had committed a “political suicide” after his defeat in the National Assembly.

BNP-M chief Akhtar Mengal lashed out at Mr Suri, saying that he had been sitting in the assembly for the past more than two years on a stay order from a court.

Also, JUI-Fazl chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at a separate presser asked those members of the “security establishment” who had attended the NSC meeting to “clarify their position” on the claim of Mr Khan that the security establishment representatives were satisfied with his stance that foreign conspiracy was behind the no confidence move. He said it was insufficient for the military establishment to say they had become “neutral”, after supporting an ‘illegitimate’ government for over three years.

The Maulana said the people through their representatives in the assembly had given their verdict and expressed the hope that the civil, military bureaucracy and the judiciary would also respect the people’s mandate. “We want our security institutions not to make themselves part of the public debate… If they themselves want to see it happening, then they need to think over it,” he said.

The JUI-F chief also questioned the continued use of official resources by Mr Khan failed to provide us justice. Our presidential reference [on Bhutto’s case] is still pending. The court couldn’t stop Zia’s coup, it couldn’t stop Musharraf’s coup … But we are requesting you: stop Imran Khan’s coup,” he appealed to the judiciary.

“Your decision will write the future of the country. It will decide whether our Constitution is just a piece of paper or a document that protects the integrity of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan,” he told the presser shortly before the hearing of suo motu notice of the constitutional crisis by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial-led bench.