PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday said his party did not want to take the names of army generals at rallies because such moves could impact the integrity of national institutions, but accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of forcing the opposition to do so.
He made the remarks while speaking to reporters in Karachi after reviewing arrangements for the Pakistan Democratic Movement's (PDM) second power show, which is scheduled to be held in the city on Sunday.
At the opposition alliance's first joint rally in Gujranwala on Friday, the PPP leader had accused the premier of being "a puppet and selected”.
“In Karachi on Oct 18 we will throw a challenge to the selected and the selectors,” he had remarked.
Meanwhile, PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, while addressing the PDM rally via video link from London, had accused the security establishment of being behind his ouster as prime minister and of "bringing Imran Khan into power".
He named Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, alleging that they were responsible for making a "state above the state" and for the presence of "two governments" in the country, among other things.
In his remarks today, Bilawal said the opposition wanted to see national institutions, including the judiciary and the military bureaucracy, not to be accused of any wrongdoing on every issue.
"It saddens me to see generals' names being taken at rallies — whether those held by the prime minister or the opposition. This weakens the integrity of our institutions, which we do not want.
"But what can we do when the army is deployed at polling stations in general elections [and] Imran Khan says in every speech 'this or that institution is with me, we are all on the same page'?" Bilawal asked, accusing the prime minister of using institutions as "political props".
"When we take the establishment's name, we realise that only today's generals or retired generals [are not to be blamed] but it is a part of our history that we either received dictatorship or a controlled democracy," he said, adding that the opposition wanted to see complete and true democracy in the country.
The PPP chairperson said they wanted to see every institution doing its own job and the army "protecting the borders instead of polling stations".
He added that the opposition did not want to see the morale of the armed forces being affected but said the politicians, parliament, judiciary and army will have to work to prevent such a situation.
Earlier on Saturday, Prime Minister Imran lashed out at Nawaz for allegedly maligning the top army leadership, saying the PML-N supremo himself was launched into politics through the help of the military establishment.
Hinting at adopting a stricter line against opposition leaders in the future, Imran said the PML-N leader was using inappropriate "language" against the army and ISI chiefs at a time when Pakistani soldiers were constantly sacrificing their lives for the nation.