ISLAMABAD: The National Assembly on the opening day of its summer session unanimously passed a resolution “strongly condemning” Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan for “maligning the country’s armed forces”.

The resolution was read out by Federal Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Murtaza Javed Abbasi after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, in their speeches during Question Hour, lashed out at Imran Khan for allegedly attacking state institutions on a “foreign agenda” and trying to create chaos in the country.

Reading out the resolution, Mr Abbasi said the PTI chairman in his speech at a public meeting in Abbottabad on Sunday had “twisted historical facts to malign the armed forces of the country by giving an impression they were conspiring against the country”.

“Pakistan’s security forces are defending our borders fearlessly and have made countless sacrifices while defending the country against the scourge of terrorism. Any attempt to malign a state institution for political gains is a disservice to Pakistan,” Mr Abbasi, who himself belongs to Abbottabad, said while reading out the resolution.

JI MNA raises similar questions on speeches by Nawaz Sharif; speaker pays tribute to army

PTI Chairman Imran Khan, while speaking at the public meeting in Abbottabad, had stated that Mir Jafar was the commander-in-chief of Sirajud Daula, the governor of Bengal, and he had joined hands with the English to topple the Mughal government and then said that his government had been ousted through “the Mir Jafars and Mir Sadiqs of today”.

After the passage of the resolution, Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf at least on three occasions praised the armed forces, declaring that any attack on the state and security institutions launched with the purpose of weakening them is against the national interest as the country’s Constitution did not allow anyone to launch such attacks on armed forces or the judiciary.

Mr Ashraf also mentioned the press statement issued by the director-general of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) last week asking the political leadership and media not to drag the army into politics.

Ms Saira Bano of the Grand Democratic Alliance (GDA) and Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), while speaking from the opposition benches, supported the resolution, but recalled that previously the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leaders had also been attacking the armed forces of the country.

“From what time, this resolution will come into force? Will we remove the previous such statements from social media?” said Ms Bano while speaking on a point of order.

“What about the speech made by a leader while sitting in London?” asked Mr Chitrali in an apparent reference to the address made by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif through a video link during a public meeting at Faisalabad in which he had even named Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the then head of the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed and blamed them for his ouster in 2017.

Mr Chitrali also protested against the speaker for allowing the prime minister and the defence minister to deliver lengthy speeches during the question hour.

GDA’s Ghaus Bakhsh Mahr asked the speaker to nominate the opposition leader and claimed that there were only six to seven members in the opposition.

He hit out at the PTI dissidents by questioning their presence on the opposition benches. He also pointed out lack of quorum, but the speaker declared the house in order after the headcount.

At the outset of the sitting, PTI dissident Noor Alam Khan drew the attention of the prime minister towards the ongoing power outages in various parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The PTI MNA also expressed his concern over the price hike and asked the government to take notice of the speeches being delivered by the PTI chairman in public meetings attacking institutions and lawmakers.

Taking the floor, Prime Minister Sharif termed Mr Khan’s remarks against the state institution a conspiracy against the country, stressing that it should be stopped immediately.

He was of the view that if no legal or constitutional action was taken against the PTI chairman then there would be chaos and the country could even face a situation like that of Syria and Libya.

Mr Sharif said that today the former prime minister was referring armed forces as Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq despite the fact that he had got an unprecedented support from the same institution in the past.

“He (Imran Khan) wants to wind up the democratic system. Notice should be taken of his remarks. This should be controlled, otherwise, no one will be spared,” Mr Sharif said while once again denying the allegation that the PTI government had been ousted because of the US plot.

The prime minister said that Mr Khan’s comments were “very dangerous and terrifying” as he had “directly” likened Pakistan’s institutions to Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq.

He said Mr Khan was once the “blue-eyed” boy of the institution and “he was fed milk like a child”.

“Without any fear, I want to say that in 75 years, this institution has never supported any government or prime minister like the support it provided to Imran Khan,” adding that despite this Mr Khan did nothing and failed to serve the nation.

He said there was no example found of this kind of support and nor would it be found again. The prime minister was of the view that if even 20 per cent of that support had been provided to the previous governments then “we would have had this country [taking] off as a plane flies”.

Taking the floor, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif termed Mr Khan “Mir Jaffar and Mir Sadiq” of the present time, and declared him a “security risk” for the country.

Mr Asif said the PTI was calling the present regime the “imported government” whereas he believed that Mr Khan himself had been imported to the country to destroy institutions.

He also criticised the former premier for using the religion, the US and the country’s traditional rivalry with India as political cards as he wanted to “wreck and disrupt the process of restoring constitutional supremacy in the country”.

He accused Mr Khan of trying to create “cracks” within the institution of the armed forces for the past several months.

The National Assembly also passed a resolution recommending to the government to constitute a task force to ensure implementation of rights of minorities in the light of the Supreme Court’s judgement of June 19, 2014.

According to the resolution, also read out by Mr Abbasi, the task force will be headed Dr Ramesh Kumar, another PTI dissident, who is already a member of the court-appointed Commission on Minorities Rights.

Published in Dawn, May 10th, 2022

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