Imran Khan and Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa arrive at ISI headquarters in Islamabad. File
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Prime Minister Imran Khan says there is a lot of anger within the Pakistan Army over the verbal attacks of former premier and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif and his party on the top military leadership, and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa is putting up with the tirade for the sake of democracy.
“I praise Gen Bajwa today. To attack an army chief in this manner, a reaction comes from the army,” Imran said during an interview to a TV channel when asked whether there was any “anger” within the military over Sharif’s aggressive speeches.
“But Gen Bajwa is an uncomplicated man. There is composure in him, that is why he is tolerating this. There would be a big reaction if somebody else was leading the army.”
The prime minister said although there was “a lot of anger” within the army ranks, “I know he is tolerating this because he believes in democracy.”
Imran said the opposition was today accusing him of being a “puppet,” saying it wanted to talk to the establishment.
“This means they’re putting pressure on the army to remove a democratic government. This is their democratic movement.”
The premier said because the opposition realised he would not budge from his position, they were “appealing to the Pakistan army, asking it to remove a democratic government.
“Article 6 applies on this; it is a case of treason. The opposition’s second demand is that if the army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chiefs do not remove me, then the army should remove them the chiefs of army and ISI.”
To a question, he said that the Pakistan army was a government department, saying: “It is not sitting above me. It’s below me.”
Imran reiterated that the army and other institutions had stood by all of his government’s decisions and policies and helped it tackle the COVID-19 crisis.
Speaking on the former governments’ troubled relationships with the establishment, Khan said Sharif was “manufactured by the army against the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).”
He said he himself received a message from military ruler Gen Ziaul Haq in 1988 that he wanted to make him (Khan) the prime minister.
He dismissed the demand of the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) that he quit by Jan.31, saying the opposition did not have the public on its side.
About the PDM’s announcement of staging a long march to the federal capital if the government refuses to resign, Khan said if the opposition alliance did indeed go ahead with such a march, it would “make it clear whether I have to resign or they have to.”
Referring to himself as the “long march specialist,” the prime minister challenged if they spend even one week in Islamabad, he will actually start thinking about resigning.
He said although his party 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.”
Fake news circulating through Twitter that Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa was in London took social media by storm, leading to intense speculation and discussion about the ongoing political situation and the future politics of Pakistan.
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PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has convened a meeting of heads of the multiparty alliance’s constituent parties on Nov.8 to review the prevailing political situation in the wake of allegations of treason.
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