PTI, PML-N confront each other over DG ISPR statement

Ijaz Kakakhel

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and PML-N leaders on Wednesday confronted each other over the statement of Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj-Gen Babar Iftikhar over foreign conspiracy against Imran Khan’s overnment removal.

The PML-N supported the DG ISPR’s point of view while the PTI leader said it was a political issue and should be left with politicians to deal with it. In this regard, the Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb lashed out at the PTI for doubting a statement by the armed forces’ media wing on the alleged ‘foreign conspiracy’, adding that the military’s viewpoint was a “stance”, not an opinion.

“PTI tried to politicize the letter, which contained a conversation between two diplomats, “Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said while addressing journalists. She said that the PTI was attacking institutions, when they should have provided evidence for their reservations over the National Security Council meeting.

The information minister asked why the PTI was endorsing the NSC meeting points? “Why was the PTI silent about the foreign conspiracy if they already knew about it?” “Institutions are neutral and the government is not going to get detracted. Every institution is working within their defined domains but this cannot be stomached by Imran Khan.”

She urged Imran and his party to show refrain when making statements against state institutions. This was not an opinion, it was the official stance, so refrain from speaking against it, Marriyum said while referring to PTI’s comments on the ISPR statement.

Now PTI will have to face criticism for their comments against institutions, she added. Talking about PTI’s criticism of the Punjab budget, the federal minister said, “Right now, the people of Punjab are being deprived of their budget just because of personal interests.”

“How can those people ‘PTI’ who attacked the parliament are going to defend it. Those who could not even clear the trash off of Lahore’s streets become its stakeholders?” The information minister further said that the PTI failed to fulfill their promises of 10 million jobs. Stop this drama and be ready to face defeat again in October 2023 elections, she said.

She also said that the government is working tirelessly to provide relief to the people. The previous government of PTI was never interested in development but only looted the country, laundered money and illegally grabbed money of welfare trusts. She said the last PTI government broke all records of corruption and did not complete development projects started before 2018 during the tenure of PML-N government.

Marriyum Aurangzeb said the present government is trying to complete the incomplete development projects to bring economic stability in the country.

She said the government is committed to clear the mess created by PTI and will steer the country on the path of progress and development.

Meanwhile, the PTI Secretary General Asad Umar held a separate press conference to address the military spokesperson’s remarks. Umar said it was “beyond his understanding” why there was a need to address the issue again from the platform of the DG ISPR.

“The DG ISPR rightly says that the army should be kept away from politics and he appeals to political parties to not involve the army in politics, which is right,” he said. “Now whether this imported government has or hasn’t come through interference or conspiracy, let political parties talk to each other about this. But now that he has spoken so it is necessary to give a response.”

The PTI leader said he was a part of that first NSC meeting and while the diplomatic letter was being read out, a military representative had called for facts and opinions to be viewed separately. Elaborating on those “facts”, Umar said it was written that a “clear threat” was given to Pakistan that if the no-confidence motion against Imran failed then the country would face “isolation and difficulties”.

“What I am saying was not once, but twice mentioned in the press release after the NSC meetings and words of a ‘clear foreign interference’ are used and it was said that ‘this isn’t at all acceptable.’” “This is a fact on which there are no two opinions,” he added.

Umar said the NSC meeting did not have the answer to whether the “foreign interference” was part of a conspiracy or not, adding that the DG ISPR was right that some military officials did not see the evidence of a conspiracy. However, he added that many of the civilian leaders in the NSC meeting had the opinion that a conspiracy was present.

Mentioning the efforts made by the PTI in pursuing the formation of a judicial commission for the ‘cablegate’ affair, Umar requested the Supreme Court to oblige and added that Imran had decided to again write to Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to urge him to oversee the matters.

“I repeat that let politicians deal with political matters. If the DG ISPR does not think it necessary to repeatedly explain political matters, then I think it will be better for the army and the country.”

PTI leader Shireen Mazari also disagreed with the DG ISPR’s version of the events, saying that contrary to his claim, no detailed intelligence report was presented in the NSC meeting.

Umar said he had “great love for the army” along with longstanding familial links with the institution, but he said that did not mean that the army’s opinion on constitutional responsibilities of the civilian leadership could be considered the “final word”.