KARACHI: A federal minister belonging to the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) brought an army boot to a live TV programme on Tuesday evening to heap scorn on the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz for voting in favour of the recently-passed Army Act in parliament.
Faisal Vawda, the federal minister for water resources, was one of the three guests at the ARY News talk show and was representing the PTI-led federal government. The other two guests were PPP’s Qamar Zaman Kaira and PML-N’s Senator Javed Abbasi.
In the middle of the programme, Mr Vawda put an army boot, which he had brought with him, on the table in front of him and told the host that he would carry it to every TV programme to tell the nation that this was today’s “democratic Noon League”.
“You [the PML-N] should have given it respect earlier like we have been doing,” he said, referring to the boot he was holding. The host interrupted him saying he thought he had carried a gun but he had brought a more dangerous thing.
But Mr Vawda continued: “You are talking against them (armed forces’ personnel) even when they embraced martyrdom. Today, when it comes to their loot and plunder Maryam Nawaz and Nawaz Sharif should hold this [the boot] and tell the people that we will respect the boot and do everything (to save us).”
The minister did not spare the PPP and asked why it took back the amendments it had proposed earlier in services chiefs’ legislation.
A visibly disturbed Mr Kaira said that Mr Vawda meant that the PPP and the PML-N had voted for the Army Act not on the request of the PTI government but on the pressure of the army.
Both Mr Abbasi and Mr Kaira left the show in protest.
At another private news channel, PML-N leader Rana Sanaullah said that the entire nation was witnessing activities of “jokers”. He said the government wanted to make a joke of the army as an institution.
The incident sparked a debate on social media and by 1am, #PTIDisrespectArmy was trending on Twitter with over 7,000 tweets.
While PTI supporters were seen praising the minister on social media, those having an independent view expressed regret over the episode and criticised the minister for dragging armed forces by creating an avoidable controversy.
Senior journalist Mazhar Abbas tweeted: “Faisal has disgraced the Institution by bringing the shoe into controversy in otherwise popular talk show. He has not only exposed himself but the party as well. Let us see how the PM will react and above all how the Institution will take it.”
Mr Vawda is known for creating controversies in the past. In 2018, he showed up in a bulletproof vest and armed with a pistol at the Chinese consulate general’s office in Karachi minutes after authorities foiled a terrorist attack there.
Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2020