PTI admits to Shahbaz Gill’s ‘blunder’, stops short of ‘condemnation’

Published August 12, 2022
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry addresses a press conference in Islamabad on Thursday. — DawnNewsTV

ISLAMABAD: While the senior leadership of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) stopped short of condemning outright the controversial statement made by Dr Shahbaz Gill on a TV channel on Aug 8, the party has conceded that he could have chosen better words, or not said what he did.

Addressing a press conference on Thursday, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry refused to condemn Gill’s statement, instead suggested his colleague could have had a better choice of words.

“I would have condemned the statement if he wasn’t under arrest. Now, after his arrest, condemning the statement does not seem appropriate to me. Moreover, efforts are being made to drive a wedge between Imran Khan and the army. Mr Khan has always worked for the prosperity of the country and that is what the army does too,” he said while addressing reporters.

He claimed the “cabal of crooks” was making all-out efforts to create discord between the PTI and the army, but they would not succeed in their nefarious designs, as the PTI chief wanted a strong army.

Fawad says his colleague could have chosen his words better, Qureshi regrets statement

On Tuesday afternoon, the PTI chairman’s Chief of Staff, Dr Gill, was arrested for allegedly making ‘hateful remarks’ against the army in a TV programme on Aug 8, and charged under several sections of the PPC, including those related to sedition and abetting mutiny.

When Mr Chaudhry was asked during the press conference why the PTI leadership appeared to have distanced itself from Gill and not approached him in prison, he denied the impression that the party had left its leader alone. “Gill was produced in court at 8am and his lawyer was already in the court. Police has been shifting Gill after every four to six hours, so we don’t know where he is being lodged. If any of you is aware of his whereabouts, tell me and I’ll go meet him,” he said while speaking to the reporters.

He also condemned the alleged police action against Gill’s driver and his wife who was picked up from her house.

PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi also admitted that Gill should have been careful and, in retrospect, not said what he did.

Speaking to DawnNews on Wednesday, however, he maintained that the way his colleague was arrested was not appropriate. “Due legal process should have been followed in Gill’s arrest. He should have been issued a notice, summoned and an explanation sought from him. The PTI respects institutions and has never ridiculed them or tried to create divisions within them,” he remarked.

Moreover, a senior PTI office-bearer, requesting anonymity, said although Mr Gill had crossed the red line, it was a unanimous understanding at the leadership level that his statement should not be condemned.

“Condemning the statement of Mr Gill will discourage other party leaders and they may go on the back foot while defending party policies,” he said.

However, PTI Islamabad president Ali Awan, while talking to Dawn, categorically said Gill had expressed his personal opinion and the party respected that.

“Every party has hardliners and soft-spoken people, such as Nawaz and Shehbaz Sharif, who have different stances on the same issue. Similarly, Khawaja Asif and other PML-N leaders use different tones on the same issues,” he added.

While replying to a question, Mr Awan denied the reports that his outspoken party fellow was given a written statement to read, saying it was purely his own opinion.

“Moreover, Mr Gill, in the court, stated he did not mean what the media has been trying to portray. So once things are cleared, the party may discuss condemnation of the statement, but at the moment, there is no such plan. The party will firmly stand by Mr Gill,” he asserted.

At his press conference here, Fawad Chaudhry also accused the coalition government of plunging the country into a host of problems, allegedly destroying Pakistan economically and politically.

He further took on the Sharif family for their alleged corruption, claiming the government had adopted a policy of intimidation and coercion and controlled media houses, believing they would manage things, but this would not yield any result.

Published in Dawn, August 12th, 2022

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