PML-N Vice-president Maryam Nawaz on Thursday said that the army chief should be a person who had a "flawless reputation", free from any criticism or doubts.
Maryam made these remarks in a press conference outside the Islamabad High Court on Thursday while answering a question about Defence Minister Khawaja Asif's comments, wherein he had said that former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed's name could be considered for the new army chief.
"If his name is on the seniority list, it will definitely be considered," Asif had said in an interview with the BBC.
The PML-N leader has been critical of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, who served as the ISI chief from June 16, 2019, to Oct 19, 2021, and is currently posted as the Peshawar corps commander.
Addressing a rally last week in Fateh Jang, Maryam had criticised Gen Hameed while referring to Imran Khan's recent podcast appearance where he had said the intelligence chief was the "eyes and ears" of the government.
The PML-N leader had said: "We know that he wasn't your eyes and ears [rather] he was your hands through which you throttled your political opponents."
In her media talk today, she said that the army was a respectable institution for the country and its people. "The nation looks at the army for the unity and security of Pakistan. So it is important that the army chief is a person who is worthy and stainless so that people salute the Pakistan Army."
Maryam added that it was a "good thing" that the military had decided to stay away from politics and limit itself to its constitutional role, something politicians had struggle for.
"But there's only one man who has a problem with this ... who has gotten used to cheating, who doesn't have feet of his own and needs support," she said. "And it suits him to drag institutions into politics and make them controversial. It's only one man and his name is Imran Khan."
'Elections have to happen'
Maryam also asserted that elections had to happen and they were the solution to the crisis.
She said that a short-term coalition government could not make big decisions. "Nawaz Sharif inherited Pakistan in a bad shape but eventually things got better in two to three years. Unfortunately, this interim setup cannot do it."
"I just want people not to get lured [into backing the opposition] and I want them to vote for Nawaz Sharif whenever elections are held," the PML-N leader said.
Meanwhile, recalling her conversation with Professor Israr and Hakeem Saeed in the 1990s, she said that she now understood when people said Imran Khan was being prepared to "ruin Pakistan".
"The conspiracy that he hatched against Pakistan, even if all countries united, they couldn't have done it," she claimed, saying that the man who was primarily responsible for the country's economy today was blaming the PML-N government for inflation.
"But people know that you are to be blamed for this inflation and destruction," Maryam said. "When you bring a cricketer into power, he will do this. He does not know what the economy is. The way Imran ruined Pakistan's ties with other countries will badly affect our foreign policy. We will have to spend years to rectify it."
She further accused the PTI chairman of using his "conspiracy lies" to hide from the failures of his government, alleging that former information minister Fawad Chaudhry appointed his family members [to government jobs] and spent heavy sums on them from the national treasury.
She also criticised Usman Buzdar's government in Punjab. "You will find Farah Khan in every department. It was Farah who was running the province, not Usman Buzdar," she alleged.
Immediately after Maryam's comments, Fawad Chaudhry took to Twitter to demand that the PML-N leader reveal within 24 hours the names of those he purportedly gave jobs to. "If you fail to do so, I will send you a legal notice," the PTI leader added.
'NAB dragging cases'
Maryam also called out the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for dragging out the cases against her.
"When NAB was in their [PTI's] control, they thought they could manipulate us. There were appeals for hearings on a daily basis and quick decisions. But ever since Imran's ouster, NAB has been clueless. They make excuses at every hearing because they don't have evidence."
She claimed that if NAB had evidence, 10 months would have been sufficient to present it to the judges.
Subsequently, the PML-N leader requested the IHC bench and Chief Justice Athar Minallah to stop the "violation of my rights".
"My honour is at stake when I come to court. I want to request the court to take notice of NAB's unfairness as justice delayed is justice denied."
Anyone involved in "political engineering" should be brought to justice, Maryam demanded.