Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday said that the fact that the opposition was criticising the chiefs of Pakistan Army and Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) proved that he had appointed the right people to the posts.
The premier, who arrived in Gilgit-Baltistan in the afternoon to mark the 73rd Independence Day of the region, was speaking to the attendees and participants of the Azadi Parade.
"If these thieves [opposition] are speaking against them, it means they [chiefs] are the right people," he said, responding to the recent remarks from the opposition camp.
PML-N supremo and disqualified prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in his speeches from London while addressing the anti-government rallies of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), has alleged that Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed orchestrated his government's ouster in 2017 and rigged the 2018 general elections to "impose the ‘incompetent’ Imran Khan" on the nation.
The premier as well government ministers reacted strongly to Nawaz's accusations and blasted the opposition parties for what they said was "promoting the enemies’ narrative" and attacking the state institutions.
Ayaz Sadiq's comments
Referring to PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq's comments earlier this week in which he suggested that the PTI government had released Indian pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman in capitulation, Prime Minister Imran said that the opposition leaders were speaking the language of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
"I received congratulatory messages from leaders across the globe for how Pakistan conducted itself after Pulwama and today, he [Sadiq] is saying that Pakistan acted out of fear — which was the basis of Modi's entire election campaign.
"And the entire purpose behind this is to blackmail Imran Khan so that he looks past their looted wealth and gives them an (National Reconciliation Ordinance) NRO.
"I want to tell my nation today that Imran Khan will never forgive these dacoits."
"The way in which they attacked the judiciary [...] they are trying to elevate one judge," he said, alleging that when they — who have "run away abroad" — are cleared in cases, like in the Hudaibiya Paper Mills money laundering reference, then the judiciary is correct but when the verdicts are against them, then the judiciary is wrong.
"Similarly, the pressure on the army is only there so that we forgive them."
A new province
"I am very happy that I am here for a second time to celebrate this day with you and it will be my effort for as long as I am prime minister to spend this day with you," he said at the start of his address after taking part in the parade.
"I want to pay tribute to GB scouts and those shuhada (martyrs) who gave sacrifices and freed this region. I wanted to congratulate people of GB on another thing: our decision to give GB provincial status. This decision has been taken while keeping in view the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions."
He said he could not speak in detail about a development package because of the upcoming elections but assured the people that his government would prioritise helping the poor and people from underdeveloped areas.
'Modi govt trying to create chaos'
The premier stated that the incumbent Indian government was the "most extreme" government in 73 years and hated Muslims and Pakistan. He said that laws enacted by the Indian government — the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens — were targeted at Indian Muslims, adding that no government had done to Kashmir what this "extremist, racist, totalitarian" government had done.
He emphasised that this was why Pakistan needed a strong army. "There is no week when our soldiers do not sacrifice their lives. From our merged districts to Balochistan and sometimes even in Karachi, planned terrorism is being carried out. Who is standing in front of them? Our army and security forces.
"We know that Narendra Modi's government is trying to [create chaos] not only through terrorism but through Shia-Sunni conflict. They planned to spread chaos by killing Shia and Sunni scholars. I pay tribute to our army who destroyed these plans."
Focus on law
The prime minister said that so far, all his focus had been on fixing the economy which was now "set on the right direction". He added that his focus now would be on upholding the law.
"I will look at the state institutions myself so that powerful convicts of the country trying to blackmail are brought into the ambit of the law. You will see in the coming days whose legs shake and whose forehead sweats."
The prime minister will visit the national park in Astore and review the work being done on the Diamer-Bhasha dam, according to the Prime Minister's Office.
Every year on November 1, the region of Gilgit-Baltistan officially celebrates its independence from Kashmir’s Dogra family rule. Gilgit was liberated on November 1, 1947 while Baltistan was freed in 1948 as a result of a bloody freedom war.
However, the struggle to integrate the region in Pakistan continues.
Various governments in Pakistan have tried in the past to regulate the issues of GB through reforms and executive orders. Recently, the region has come under the spotlight again when the federal government announced plans to give GB provincial status.
The decision to make GB a province of Pakistan was taken about four months ago, said Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan Ali Amin Gandapur on Saturday. “It was amazing for me to hear that the GB people had liberated themselves from the Dogra rule and decided to annex the region to Pakistan unconditionally,” he said.