Parties urged not to drag army into politics

Published August 14, 2022
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif speaks in the National Assembly on Saturday. — Photo courtesy: NA Twitter
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif speaks in the National Assembly on Saturday. — Photo courtesy: NA Twitter

ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers on Saturday again expressed their concern over the ongoing campaign against the country’s armed forces and urged political parties not to drag the state institutions into politics.

Speaking on the floor of the National Assembly, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif without naming Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan said if the army did not want to play any political role, then there was no need for anyone to give its reference in speeches during the public meetings.

The statement came at a time when Mr Khan was addressing PTI’s power show in Lahore.

“Do not drag the army into politics if it wanted to stay away from politics. Please let the army, bureaucrats and judiciary function within their constitution limits,” said the minister when given the floor by Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf to open a debate on the diamond jubilee celebrations of the country’s first constituent assembly.

Need for national dialogue among all parties highlighted during NA special session

Without naming Shahbaz Gill, the defence minister alleged that the arrested PTI member had “incited” the army, which was ‘unacceptable’, adding that the PPP and the PML-N had suffered in the past at the hands of the establishment, but even then they did not use the kind of language used by “that person”.

Read: Imran sees conspiracy to split his party from army

Later, PTI dissident Ahmed Hussain Deharr also lashed out at Mr Khan for allegedly maligning the national institutions. He said those who were running a campaign against the national institutions were “traitors” and deserved to be tried under Article 6.

Federal minister and PPP leader Syed Khursheed Shah urged politicians to review past mistakes and identify those who were responsible for bringing the country to present chaotic situation.

Earlier, Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf along with all the parliamentary leaders inaugurated a huge portrait of the Quaid-i-Azam installed at the National Assembly Hall. Some 35 years ago, he said, renowned artist Saeed Akhtar was entrusted with the task of creating a portrait of the Quaid-i-Azam for the first directly elected legislative house. He said in the shadow of Mr Akhtar’s artwork, the first directly elected assembly not only took oath but also made the constitution. The 90-year old artist had earlier in the day attended the convention that had been arranged for the ex-parliamentarians.

Lone Jamaat-i-Islami member Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali protested against the speaker for not inviting him for the inauguration of the portrait.

The speaker then adjourned the sitting 15 minutes before the midnight, after inviting the members to witness fireworks outside the Parliament House, announcing that they would meet again after midnight with a new agenda that would include “passing of a resolution on the diamond jubilee celebration of the first constituent assembly of Pakistan”.

However, the speaker abruptly adjourned the ceremonial midnight sitting, after extending felicitation to the nation, so that they could pass the resolution in a convention of the present and ex-parliamentarians, instead of getting it approved from the National Assembly. The resolution was presented by former MNA Kashmala Tariq.

Earlier in the day, speaking at the convention, ex-legislators presented a bleak picture of the prevailing political and economic situation in the country and called for holding a “national dialogue” to bring Pakistan out of multiple crises. They held the establishment’s interventions as the main cause for the poor state of democracy in the country and warned that Pakistan could face disintegration if this practice was not stopped.

Veteran politician Makhdoom Javed Hashmi, former Punjab CM Manzoor Wattoo, and former lawmaker from Balochistan Rauf Mengal also spoke.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2022

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