Shahbaz Gill's statement unacceptable, crossed every line: Khawaja Asif

Published August 10, 2022
Defense Minister Khawaja Asif in an interview on Dawn News programme Live with Adil Shahzeb. — DawnNewsTV
Defense Minister Khawaja Asif in an interview on Dawn News programme Live with Adil Shahzeb. — DawnNewsTV

Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif on Wednesday said that the contents of PTI leader Shahbaz Gill's talk on ARY News were unacceptable, saying that the language used by the politician was tantamount to "crossing every line".

He made these remarks on Dawn News programme Live with Adil Shahzeb a day after Gill, who is PTI chief Imran Khan's chief of staff, was arrested from the Banigala Chowk on Tuesday.

The arrest came in the wake of the Pakistan Electronic and Media Regulatory Authority issuing a show-cause notice to ARY News for airing controversial remarks by Gill, which the authority described as "highly hateful and seditious" and tantamount to inciting the "armed forces towards revolt".

Speaking on the show today, the minister said that he was never in favor of sending someone behind bars without evidence. "But Gill crossed all the lines."

He stated that there had been several instances where the Pakistan Army was criticised but "never in the last 75 years did anyone ever encourage mutiny within the Pakistan Army".

"Never did anyone ever say anything that compromised the respect and dignity of the institution."

Asif recalled that in the last few decades, the contributions and sacrifices of the army were commendable. "And such comments on social media, the one that occurred after the Lasbela incident, have no precedence."

He was referring to the army helicopter crash during the Balochistan relief operations.

Responding to a question regarding his National Assembly (NA) from 2006, in which the minister had criticised the army, Asif said that his remarks should be seen in the background that a "sitting president was sitting in (military uniform)."

"He (Pervaiz Musharraf) was holding rallies and he was a political rival of a party [...] so my comments should be taken in that context," he said.

Meanwhile, firing broadsides at PTI chairman Imran Khan, Asif said that the former prime minister had a pattern where he criticised every person who spoke against him.

"For him, his personal interest is supreme. He has no national interest," the minister claimed.

Talking about the probable ban on the PTI, Asif said he would leave that to the court.

“If the law allows banning any such party, the court should decide about it but the evidence against foreign funding is indisputable,” he stated, suggesting that all political disputes must be addressed through dialogue but without any pre-condition.

The defense minister also denied whether Pakistan’s space was used for the drone attack on Al-Qaida top leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri in Afghanistan. “The US does not need our space for that.”

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