–Premier says civil-military departments working within spheres, leading to a relationship which is ‘best in history’
ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif of acting on the behest of India and has said the former premier is playing a “dangerous game” by levelling allegations against the army.
Prime Minister Imran said that the military and the civil government departments are working within their spheres and this has led to relations that are “best in history” between them.
The above was said during an interview with a local news station, wherein the premier also added that one shouldn’t hate the army because of the actions of a few past dictators.
The premier remarked that Nawaz’s speech was an attempt to weaken the relationship between the government and the Pakistan Army, which only harms the country in the end.
“Whose interest is it that our army weakens? Our enemies,” he added, saying some “foolish liberals” were agreeing with Nawaz’s narrative.
“Look at Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen; the entire Muslim world is ablaze [so] why are we safe? If it weren’t for our army, our country would have been in three pieces. India’s think-tanks say that they want to break Pakistan,” PM Imran said, reiterating the fact that it is the army which has saved us otherwise the country will have been disintegrated in three parts as per Indian designs.
The prime minister went on to say that the “military’s job is not to run the government. If a democratically elected government is performing poorly, it does not mean martial law should be imposed; it means the government should be improved”.
PM Imran compared the military to the judiciary and said that it has evolved. He added that “Contemporary civil-military relations are the best in history because they are all working in their spheres”.
He said Nawaz was creating “huge fitna (mischief)” by attacking the army. “He [Nawaz] is becoming the next Altaf Hussain,” he said. Furthermore, the prime minister said Nawaz has problems with the army because “they come to steal, and our world-class agencies detect their theft”.
The PM stated that Nawaz had taken control of various institutions of the country during his tenure, including in the legislative and judiciary departments, but added that the PML-N supremo could never control the army.
He also spoke on the claim reportedly made by Nawaz that former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Zaheerul Islam had asked him to resign. PM Imran said, “You were the prime minister, [how] does he have the courage to say that to you?”
“[Nawaz] has no moral authority,” he said while adding that in security matters the army has the biggest say in any country in the world.
“India has become a security issue,” he added. “We know India sponsors terrorism in Pakistan but since we were aiming to bring peace because we wanted to lift our economy, the army stood by me.”
Answering a question about Nawaz’s return to Pakistan, the premier remarked, “I am so angry that he went abroad by lying shamelessly. All kinds of lies were told that he is about to die, [his] platelets are low, etc.”
The prime minister said that his government was asking the British government to “send him back” and that there was a “plan in place”.
“We allowed him to leave on humanitarian grounds … and now that he is there he has started politics. We know he is meeting different people and is conspiring against the nation,” he said.
“To make the public come out, you need to pick something that interests the masses. They [opposition] can never lure masses out,” he said in reply to a question regarding the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) claims of removing PTI from power., reiterating his lack of fear in face of the opposition’s threats,
The PM said that Nawaz was targeting institutions by sitting abroad so he could get an NRO-like deal.
He said that he would prefer to quit power rather than giving any NRO to those, who have plundered Pakistan’s wealth.
He also said that the opposition has the right to peaceful protest. “They can do that as much as they want but if they step outside the law, I will put them all in jails,” he added.
He further said opposition in a democracy protects public interests and keeps a check on government. But unfortunately, our opposition is focusing on hiding its corruption, he added.
Asked about his comment regarding ‘umpire’s finger’ during the PTI sit-in against the PML-N government, the premier said he “never meant the army” when he used the term.
“In my eyes, the only umpire is Allah. I went to jail in [Pervez] Musharraf’s time, why would I want the army to take over [during PML-N’s term]?” he said.
Regarding his visit to the General Headquarters (GHQ) in 2014, Imran said the PML-N government had “asked [then-army chief General] Raheel Sharif to talk to us. They asked us to end the sit-in; we said no, everyone knows that”.
Answering a question regarding a meeting held between prominent opposition leaders and the army chief, Prime Minister Imran said Lt Gen (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa had called the meeting regarding Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) after asking him.
“There was a purpose behind [the meeting],” he said. “India is active in GB; it is also part of the CPEC route and … the region is in limbo. The people there want rights and India is exploiting that.”
“It was important that the [army] explained to them what security issues are coming up. Whenever there is a security matter, I prefer the army to explain because they have institutional memory,” he added.
Furthermore, speaking on former Special Assistant to Prime Minister Bajwa’s family’s recent controversy, he said that Bajwa had “produced a detailed document with all the answers” to the serious allegation hurled against him.
“It is a public document; if someone raises any questions over it I will investigate it,” the premier added.
“After he [Bajwa] submitted his response, we sat with the law minister and studied his response. If someone has objections to that response, I will pursue the matter,” he further said.
In the same interview, PM Imran responded to allegations of putting pressure on media houses.
“The conditions were obviously difficult, so they were reported. But then there was fake reporting; it damaged us,” he said.
The premier remarked no other government in the past had faced the kind of criticism in the media that the PTI government had in its two years of power, adding that his government nothing to do with the abduction of journalist Matiullah Jan from Islamabad.
He said that while some media houses had done “a good job”, some others “played a role in protecting culprits”.