ISLAMABAD: The ruling PML-N and PTI sparred on Sunday after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif accused former prime minister Imran Khan of sending ‘assassination threats’ to army chief General Asim Munir through ‘proxies’.
Mr Sharif slammed the social media campaign about “threats of an assassination attempt” on Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir and expressed the resolve to crush every conspiracy against Pakistan and state institutions.
In a statement, he said that on May 9, similar minds were involved in the conspiracy. The prime minister directed the authorities to take legal action against those involved in such media campaigns inside the country and abroad. It is a clear message to May 9 planners, facilitators and handlers that conspiracy against Pakistan and its institutions will be crushed, he added.
He termed the “vile, malevolent and malicious media campaigns” a result of the planning of miscreants and said that the conspirators had again become active against the political and economic stability of the country.
The new media campaign was a part and parcel of that abhorrent campaign, which was launched against martyrs, he maintained. The prime minister observed that the media drive against armed forces and its chief did not fall within the domain of freedom of expression, but it was only a conspiracy, and it was a legal responsibility to eradicate such tendency with full strength. He said the nation would foil such attempts in such a manner as it had frustrated the attempt on May 9 to stir violence and vandalism in the country. The entire nation was standing behind its armed forces and its chief and resolved not to allow the disappointed and panicked elements to create new crises in the country, he added.
Separately, on his Twitter handle, the prime minister said that PTI chief Imran Khan “continued to engage in a vile, sinister and malicious campaign” against General Asim Munir.
“His trick of using the proxies to threaten the army chief of an assassination attempt has been badly exposed. After his methodically planned attack on the State symbols failed, he is clearly desperate & wants to coerce his way back into power, little knowing that the time of his politics of intimidation, violence & hatred is over,” he added.
“Through such highly condemnable antics, he is only exposing himself, the core of which is defined by putting his personal interest (power grab) over everything else,” the premier added.
“The people of Pakistan and the political parties stood behind their army chief and the armed forces like a rock and would thwart any attempt and conspiracy at undermining their prestige, honour and integrity,” he added.
‘Who gained most from May 9’
In response to the claims made by the premier, PTI chief Imran Khan said: “Instead of making absurd accusations, the question that Shehbaz Sharif needs to answer is, who gained the most from the events of May 9?”
He said: “The humiliating way in which I was abducted from the Islamabad High Court, as if I were some criminal, my lawyers and the IHC staff were also beaten up, had been declared completely unconstitutional and illegal by the Supreme Court. Has your government held anyone accountable for conducting an unconstitutional act?
“Any independent investigation will find that you and your band of crooks and money launderers who were petrified of losing elections to PTI, were behind the mayhem caused on May 9 and the crackdown against PTI that followed,” he tweeted.
“Lastly, you cannot fool anyone by making these nonsensical and ridiculous statements just to drive a wedge between Pakistan’s biggest political party and the establishment so that you can save billions that you’ve stolen from the people of Pakistan,” he added.
In a scathing response, the PTI termed the premier’s statement “irresponsible” and “dangerous”. The party claimed that appointing a person “devoid of self-respect” to the position of prime minister led to damaging the dignity of the post and creating “chaos and disorder”.
“Shehbaz Sharif’s statement is shameful and reprehensible from every angle,” it said in a statement posted on Twitter. The PTI said that the prime minister was attempting to “use the military leadership and the armed forces as fuel for a controversial narrative” and warned that this could have disastrous consequences.
Published in Dawn, July 10th, 2023