PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday said that sloganeering against heads of the Pakistan Army's various wings was against the national interest and must not be allowed at any cost.
His comments come in the aftermath of the October 16 rally by the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) – an anti-government alliance of opposition parties – in Faisalabad. On the occasion, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz had referred to the recent controversy and speculation over the appointment of the Inter-Services Intelligence director general and had alluded to Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, without naming him.
Immediately following her speech, a person appeared at the dais and named the ISI chief, asking the crowd to shout slogans against him.
Questioned on the matter today and whether it was the PML-N's policy to seek the "removal of the head of the spy agency", Shehbaz said making such slogans against the heads of the army's institutions in public rallies was "not only against the national interest but there should be absolutely no permission for this".
He also disassociated himself and the PML-N from the individual who had incited the crowd to shout the slogans, saying that "the one who said the slogans in Faisalabad has no relation with our party — they are not a worker of our party or an officeholder — I say this unapologetically and there is no need for this matter to be repeated."
Shehbaz said a strong and professional army was necessary for a country's security, defence and peace. He said there was no need to interfere in the routine postings of an institution.
"The clouds of a new cold war are once again lurking in this region of ours. Afghanistan is our neighbouring country [and] it is the whole nation's prayers that there is peace and prosperity in Afghanistan [...] this thing is decided that this time the whole nation, including the PML-N, will not allow Pakistan to become part of a foreign conspiracy.
"The whole nation is united and we won't allow a speck to come on Pakistan's defence and security," the PML-N president said.
Shehbaz said the PDM caravan had set out and it will "only rest after exposing the government" before the people of the country.
'Inflation is Pakistan's no. 1 issue'
Lambasting the government over burgeoning inflation, he said people had been economically devasted due to rising inflation and unemployment. He said inflation was the top issue of Pakistan at the moment,
Shehbaz said he heard that the prime minister took along a delegation of 80 people to Saudi Arabia, adding that this was yet another occasion when the premier "took a u-turn".
He said the rupee was undergoing devaluation, stressing that the trend needed to be stopped.
"If this imported inflation continues to wreak destruction, even our unity won't be able to save Pakistan," he added.
He also claimed the PML-N government had taken effective measures to root out the dengue virus from the province.