ISLAMABAD: Lawmakers from various parties on Thursday felicitated Gen Asim Munir over his nomination as army chief and expressed the hope that he would keep the institution away from politics as was committed by his predecessor in his farewell address on Wednesday.
Opposition Leader Raja Riaz Ahmed was the first to extend the felicitation message to Gen Munir while taking the floor during a National Assembly session soon after the Question Hour.
Mr Ahmed, a dissident of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), was in such a hurry that he did not even allow Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani to get approval of the leave applications of members as per rules.
But while doing so, Mr Ahmed created an embarrassing moment for himself as he started criticising President Dr Arif Alvi for “delaying” the signing of the summary for the appointment of new army chief without knowing the fact that the president had already done so.
The opposition leader alleged that PTI Chairman Imran Khan had been making all out efforts to block the summary.
“I am thankful to him (the president) and felicitate him,” he said when he realised his mistake.
Mr Ahmed expressed the hope that the new army chief would utilise all his capabilities for the betterment of the country and would continue the policy announced by outgoing Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa that the army would not interfere in politics.
Maulana Abdul Akbar Chitrali of Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) expressed the hope that the new chief would utilise his “professional capabilities and play his role in making the country’s borders more safe in the wake of present threats”.
The JI member, sitting on the opposition benches, said it was heartening to hear from Gen Bajwa that the army had decided to keep itself away from politics, but said the armed forces needed to take practical steps to make the 220 million people of Pakistan feel that it had become a reality.
However, Maulana Chitrali endorsed the outgoing chief’s claim by giving his own example. He informed the house that for the past one year, he had not received any call from “people in the [intelligence agencies]” which was previously a routine practice, particularly during the PTI’s government.
The JI lawmaker recalled that on one occasion, he had received a call from an agency man at 1.54am and on another occasion, at the time of some important legislation, he had received 11 such calls in just one day.
He said it was now the responsibility of the new army chief to practically demonstrate what his predecessor had declared in his speech. Similarly, he added, it was now a test for the politicians as well; they must not seek army’s intervention and allow them to focus on their constitutional duties.
He indirectly criticised Imran Khan for targeting the armed forces when they had decided to become neutral.
Maulana Chitrali lauded Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s decision to nominate the senior most generals for the top two positions in the armed forces.
Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) MNA from Multan Ali Musa Gilani said that after the appointment of army chief, the nation should now move ahead.
He was of the view that the nation and the media should not have sensationalised the appointment process, regretting that anchors, youtubers and even ordinary people were presenting various theories and creating controversies over the issue.
Mr Gilani said that instead of focusing on real issues, the whole nation was busy in discussions on these appointments. He said it was a normal procedure and it was the prerogative of the prime minister to make the appointments. He, however, thanked Prime Minister Sharif for consulting the allies on the issue.
The member expressed the hope that the new army chief would play his professional role in defending the country’s geographical boundaries and “will implement the security policies of the government in letter and spirit.”
The National Assembly unanimously passed two resolutions, seeking withdrawal of appeals filed by the former government before the Supreme Court to annul the decision of the Lahore High Court against the publication of blasphemous contents on social media and also asking the government to withdraw the notification regarding the disconnection of the gas supply to commercial units and asking them to convert to RLNG.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2022