LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) has cautioned that legislation on the extension of service of Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa will not be easy in parliament if the hostile attitude of the Imran Khan-led government towards the opposition continues.
“The way ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) is provoking [the opposition] it is creating hurdles in the legislation on extension for the army chief. The government wants the opposition not to cooperate with it on this matter,” PML-N secretary general Ahsan Iqbal told a press conference here on Saturday.
Former National Assembly speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, MNA Pervaiz Malik and MPA Azma Bokhari accompanied him.
Mr Iqbal said that the prime minister after the Supreme Court’s verdict on the extension of army chief’s service declared the opposition unpatriotic and his ministers also launched a tirade against it.
He said the PTI was also trying to make state institutions controversial.
Ahsan Iqbal says the party will finalise its strategy in consultation with ailing Nawaz Sharif
“The PTI is trying to prove that Gen Bajwa and the army are with it (PTI). The army and the army chief do not belong to any one political party but the nation. So the premier and his party should refrain from giving this impression,” he said, adding that the PTI government cut a sorry figure in the world the way it mishandled the matter of the army chief’s extension in the Supreme Court.
The apex court had on Thursday allowed extension/reappointment of Gen Bajwa for another six months and asked the government to determine the tenure, terms and conditions of the service of the army chief through legislation within the six-month period.
To a question about its strategy in parliament regarding the legislation, Mr Iqbal said: “The party will finalise its action plan in consultation with the party’s supreme leader Nawaz Sharif after receiving the detailed verdict of the apex court.”
This is the first reaction on the matter by the main opposition party. The PML-N appears to have categorically told the government, especially PM Khan, to change their attitude if they want a ‘smooth sailing’ on the legislation on the army chief’s tenure extension.
“The other major opposition party — Pakistan Peoples Party — has the same complaint. With no visible change of PM Khan’s attitude towards the opposition especially stopping of his rant of thief and corruption it will not extend the hand of cooperation to the government,” another PML-N leader told Dawn.
The PML-N also believes that the way the government made the extension of the army chief’s tenure controversial now it is going to make the appointment of the new chief election commissioner (CEC) disputable.
“The government is deliberately creating a crisis over the appointment of the new CEC to save its skin in the foreign funding case,” Mr Iqbal said, adding that there had been a complete consensus among the opposition parties to get rid of this “inept and incompetent” government that triggered a worst economic crisis in the country and to push for midterm polls in 2020.
He said since the ‘driver’ of the country was highly incompetent a change in the civil and police bureaucracy would not help improve the governance.
Replying to a question regarding appointment of an alleged ‘anti-PML-N’ officer, Wajid Zia, as the new head of the Federal Investigation Agency, the former interior minister said: “The former JIT chief has been brought for take a vindictive action against PML-N leaders but we will not allow the FIA to become a PTI subsidiary.”
Mr Iqbal also alleged that the PTI government was the most corrupt one as every department had been mired with corruption. He also advised PM Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi to visit abroad to raise the issue of India-held Kashmir instead of making mere statements.
On Nawaz Sharif’s health, Mr Iqbal said: “Mr Sharif will return to the country the moment he gets well.”
Published in Dawn, December 1st, 2019