• Accuses Imran of causing immense harm to army
• Fawad rejects opposition’s claims, says legal process for ISI chief’s posting under way
LAHORE: Opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) alliance leaders Maulana Fazlur Rehman and Shehbaz Sharif have said that fresh polls must be held at once to steer the country out of crises.
“It’s a demand of the PDM and other (political forces) that fresh elections be called in the country immediately. Only transparent fresh polls will pave the way for the right direction of the country,” Shehbaz said in a talk with journalists here on Saturday along with Maulana Fazl, who had called on him to discuss the PDM affairs and other matters to devise a strategy to oust the Imran Khan government.
In response to a query, Shehbaz said a (long) march would be held against inflation and price hike at any cost.
“Fresh election is the need of the hour,” the Maulana said and claimed that people associated with every national institution were demanding restoration of economy.
“This is a very grave situation.”
He said the PDM’s next power show to achieve its goals would be held in Faisalabad on Oct 16.
The two leaders accused Prime Minister Imran Khan of causing “immense” harm to the armed forces.
They alleged that even Indian premier Narendra Modi could not have caused so much harm to the institution that PM Khan has done.
“We want to see the army strong,” PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif said.
When his comments were sought on the so-called notification controversy surrounding the ISI DG’s appointment, the opposition leader in the National Assembly said: “It is regrettable how U-turn Khan has handled the sensitive matter of the army. This institution is responsible for the defence of the country and history is witness to its sacrifices.”
Unlike his elder brother Nawaz Sharif and niece Maryam Nawaz, Shehbaz has not named individuals associated with the army for what the father-daughter duo claims being responsible for ‘installing’ the Imran Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf government in 2018.
Similarly, the junior Sharif never endorsed PDM president Maulana Fazl’s critical views about the establishment in the opposition alliance’s rallies he attended.
But on Saturday, he seconded the PDM chief and maintained that PM Khan had “mishandled the sensitive matter”, causing immense damage to the institution of the army.
Maulana Fazl said: “I will not talk about the internal matter of the institution of the army… but the man who is the symbol of unity of the command has immensely damaged it (army). Everyone is worried about the situation. We may have political differences, but we want the army to be strong and disciplined for the defence of the country.”
Maulana Fazl alleged that the PM had destroyed all institutions of the country.
While responding to the PDM leaders’ remarks, federal Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told Dawn that both Shehbaz and Maulana Fazl were looking for a “job” from the army’s General Headquarters.
To a question on the supposed issue over the appointment of the new ISI chief, Mr Chaudhry remarked: “There has been no controversy whatsoever.”
Replying to another question about the issuance of a notification from the prime minister’s office, he said: “A legal process in this regard is under way.”
Besides, in a statement, the minister said: “Shehbaz Sharif should not vent his anger over the injustices done to him within his party by making unconstitutional and undemocratic demands. He must first decide whether he is in the PML-N or his elder brother has thrown him out with the help of his close aides.”
Fawad Chaudhry said the PML-N’s politics had been buried by Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam.
“Those who championed the art of corruption in Pakistan have ruined their politics in London and cannot befool the people of Pakistan anymore. The Sharifs have double standards: when they were in power, they pleaded their government should complete its constitutional term, but in case of Imran Khan’s government they can’t tolerate it,” he said, adding that those who were addicted to using public resources and protocols for decades felt like a fish out of water now that they were not in a position of authority.
He said inflation was an outcome of the billions of rupees of corruption and foreign loans taken by previous governments for personal gains.
He advised Maulana Fazl not to play with the democratic system to satisfy his political ego. He asked him to remember his speeches in the National Assembly in the past wherein he used to advocate a government completing its term.
Published in Dawn, October 10th, 2021