KARACHI: Following Mau­lana Fazlur Rehman’s speech in Islamabad in which he asked unnamed institutions to act impartially on Friday, the military came with a strong response, telling the JUI-F chief and opposition parties that the Army was an impartial institution and it supported the democratically elected government.

In his speech, Maulana Fazl had told the Azadi march that “we do not desire a clash with the institutions” and expected them to be “impartial”.

Later in the night, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) director general Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor joined the special transmission of ARY News over the phone and asked, in response to a question of the anchor, the JUI-F chief about the institution he had referred to in his speech.

“Fazlur Rehman is a seasoned politician...first he should be asked which institution he was talking about,” he told ARY News. “Is he referring to the election commission or judiciary or the army?”

“[If he was referring to the army] the opposition should understand that the army is an impartial organisation. We believe on the rule of the law and the Constitution. Our support is not for one party but it lies with a democratically elected government,” he said.

The ISPR chief said if the opposition had complaints about the transparency of the July 25, 2018, general elections and because of this it was “dragging the army” into politics then they should keep one thing in mind that the army had fulfilled its constitutional and legal responsibility.

“[Although] one year has passed to the elections, yet they have objections [then] they should bring them to the institutions concerned,” he said, adding that the opposition still had the option to exercise their constitutional right to raise whatever allegations they had on the forum concerned as street protest would not solve issues.

He declared that there was no point in levelling allegations against the army. He said that no one would be allowed to destroy peace in the country.

“Chaos is not in the interest of the country,” the ISPR chief said, adding that all democratic issues should be dealt with in a democratic manner.

He said that the committees of the government and the opposition had been working with coordination and hoped that they would take up the matter in an effective manner.

Gen Ghafoor said that the nation and the army had bravely fought with the challenge of terrorism during the past 20 years and peace was restored after tremendous sacrifices.

He said that the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa had also fought terrorism and now they need betterment and welfare.

Published in Dawn, November 2nd, 2019

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