ISLAMABAD: Hours after PTI’s estranged President Javed Hashmi made explosive claims about a scripted plan to overthrow the government by using violent protests as a pretext, the military rejected assertions that the army and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) were backing the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) and were behind the current political standoff.
“Army is an apolitical institution and has expressed its unequivocal support for democracy at numerous occasions,” the Inter-Services Public Relations said in a statement issued here on Monday.
It is unfortunate that the army has been dragged into such controversies. “Integrity and unity of the army is its strength which it upholds with pride,” the ISPR said. The statement followed calls made by leading rights activists that the ISPR should clarify its position. And some analysts suggested an immediate reaction from the ISPR, a debate in parliament and a notice by the Supreme Court.
Talking to reporters at the parliament house, Mr Hashmi quoted PTI Chairman Imran Khan as having told him that “we cannot move forward without the army” and that the ‘badge-bearers’ wanted PTI protesters to move along with those of the PAT and march together on the Prime Minister’s House.
ISPR denies allegation that army is behind the Islamabad march
He also dragged the judiciary into the controversy and said that Imran Khan had told him before the long march that a new chief justice would be his sympathiser. Asked to name the judge, he said he was referring to the incumbent chief justice.
He also quoted Imran Khan as saying that the chief justice along with other judges would throw Nawaz Sharif out of power and new elections would be held in September. He said it appeared to him that everything was pre-planned. “A hijacked PTI has come here. We have been made hostage,” he remarked.
According to him, “Imran had told the PTI core committee that the new arrangement would not be called martial law. We will file a petition in the Supreme Court and get a judge of our choice who will say okay. The chief justice will validate the actions which will be taken eventually and this would not be the Bangladesh model.”
He also said that the chief justice had summoned all judges to Islamabad and it appeared to be part of the plan.
Answering a question, Mr Hashmi said he could not say whose plan it was. “Only the planners themselves would know this. But their name is being brought into a bad repute.” He, however, said there was a mention of ISI and the army.
Mr Hashmi said he was still president of the PTI because Imran Khan did not follow the constitution in sacking him. “Imran Khan should have gone through the party’s constitution first.”
He said the PTI’s core committee had warned Imran Khan to beware of Awami Muslim League leader Sheikh Rashid.
“I am Javed Hashmi and today I am saying this to save the constitution. I know those making statements do not get a chance to live,” he said in response to a question about proof of his allegations.
Mr Hashmi, who was thrown out of the PTI by Imran Khan because of disagreements over marching towards the PM House, said the PTI and PAT had been given a plan, but did not name the script-writer, although pointed finger at the army.
Denying Imran Khan’s claim that he (Mr Hashmi) was the only one opposing the decision to move towards the PM House, he said Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Jehangir Tareen, Pervaiz Khattak and Arif Alvi had also opposed it.
Mr Hashmi said the entire core committee had warned Mr Khan that Sheikh Rashid would ruin him. The core committee had passed a resolution about the need to keep Sheikh Rashid at a distance. He said Mr Khan had said that “our friends” wanted Sheikh Rashid to be elected to the National Assembly.
Talking about the resignations of PTI members from the assemblies, Mr Hashmi said they had been forced to do that. “No-one submitted his resignation whole-heartedly,” he remarked.
Answering a question about allegations of rigging in the 2013 general elections, he said that there was no harm in getting the matter investigated and that the demand of prime minister’s resignation was not unconstitutional. “I am with parliament and the constitution. You will never find me among cowards,” he said.
PTI Information Secretary Shireen Mazari rejected the allegations and said the PTI had followed the party’s constitution by issuing a show-cause notice to Mr Hashmi.
“If Mr Hashmi thought the PTI was linked to the army he should have immediately resigned. The fact is that there was no such talk in any meeting nor is there any such covert agenda. The chairman had said from day one that if the legal avenues failed to give justice to the PTI against rigging it would come out on the road to protest,” she said.
She said that Mr Hashmi’s unfortunate allegations were baseless. “It is sad indeed that he has chosen this path of levelling unfounded allegations,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, the PML-N has said that Imran Khan had lost moral justification to remain chief of PTI after the allegations levelled against him by Javed Hashmi.
PML-N Information Secretary Mushahidullah Khan said the accusations should be investigated at a credible forum. He said what PAT chief Tahirul Qadri and Imran Khan had done were tantamount to treason against state institutions.
Published in Dawn, September 2nd, 2014