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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Thursday said the armed forces continue to stand with the government as per the Constitution.

While addressing a press conference, he rejected the impression that the military establishment was now supporting the opposition, while adding “as per our Constitution, the army has to stay with the government.”

The information minister said a meeting of the political committee was held earlier in the day where concerns were raised over a campaign against the Pakistan Army.

He called the top opposition leadership as anti-army and linked their no-confidence motion to their long-standing unfulfilled desire to have political control over the institution.

After running a few video clips and naming the opposition leadership — including, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, former president Asif Ali Zardari, and JUI-F and PDM chief Maulana Fazlur Rahman — the minister alleged that the anti-army campaign was being run by them and said the opposition’s no-trust move was an attempt to turn the army into Punjab police. “Their agenda to have political control on the army is not new.”

A clip was then played at the press briefing in which Rehman was shown speaking at a press conference alongside PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari. The press conference was held earlier this week, hours after opposition parties submitted a no-confidence motion with the National Assembly Secretariat against the prime minister.

In a clip, Rehman was saying: “We also think about reforms for our institutions. The jurisdictions of all institutions have been defined in the Constitution and we want to move towards that so that such complains or questions never arise in the country again.”

“The agenda that they [the opposition] are giving is that they want to have political control over the army,” the information minister said.

“Subduing the army is an old dream of Nawaz Sharif, Asif Zardari, and Maulana Fazlur Rehman,” the minister added.

Subsequently, the minister after revealing that Nawaz and Indian PM Narendra Modi had a secret meeting in Kathmandu, Nepal, recalled that Modi came to Pakistan to attend a wedding ceremony of the Sharif family without having a visa at a time when Modi was labelling former army chief Raheel Sharif a “terrorist” and Nawaz was a “patriot”.

Terming them as lethal attacks by Modi, Fawad with the help of another video clip of Foreign Office former spokesperson Tasneem Aslam said that Nawaz had allegedly refrained the office from issuing statements against India, implying Nawaz might have got some benefits because of the decision but the country did not get any.

Chaudhry referred to the memogate scandal, which had surfaced after the publication of a secret memo asking Washington for help reining in the Pakistani military during the PPP’s tenure in 2011. He further mentioned Dawn leaks, which occurred during the PML-N’s tenure in 2016. The matter pertained to Dawn publishing details of a high-level civil-military meeting discussing the issue of banned outfits operating in Pakistan — which quoted government officials warning the military leadership of international isolation, if Pakistan failed to act against militants.

CM Punjab to remain in power as long as he enjoys PM Imran’s support: Fawad

Chaudhry said he was mentioning these incidents to refresh people’s memories about the age-old ambitions of the current opposition parties to malign the Pakistan Army.

In the news conference, Fawad said that the opposition’s other objection was why Prime Minister Imran Khan said “Absolutely Not” to the US and why he talked about the European Union.

Fawad said the opposition had some issue with our independent foreign policy, adding the people of Pakistan has to decide if they want to keep protecting the opposition leaders’ interests that has been targeting the army.

Fawad said that Pakistan wants to have good relations with the US and the EU, saying self-respect could not be compromised for trade relations. He said that trade relations were of mutual nature, adding independent foreign policy would continue.

While talking about no-trust motion, Fawad said that the government wanted to end the ongoing “political drama” before the conference of the OIC Council of foreign ministers and the March 23 parade, where the foreign ministers are among the guests. “We want to end this political drama before these events,” he said.

On the National Assembly session and the voting process over the motion, Fawad said that calling the session was the prerogative of the speaker, Asad Qaiser, and he has the authority to take action the moment any lawmaker crosses the floor. He emphasised that it should not be the case that first someone should be allowed to do the wrong and then law should come into action.

Responding to another question about getting the support of disgruntled members and government’s allies, Fawad reiterated that the government has the support from everyone.

He said the government was in-touch with the PTI’s estranged leaders, Jahangir Khan Tareen and Aleem Khan, saying negotiation would continue and a united response would be given.

Fawad said the PTI had enough numbers to foil the opposition’s no-trust motion against Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying he had the support of 179 lawmakers and the number might touch 184 with the inclusion of five more legislators of other political parties in the PTI’s ranks.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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