LAHORE: The ruling PML-N on Sunday accused the PTI of running a smear campaign against the country’s martyrs, an allegation swiftly rejected by the opposition party.

Information Minister Attaullah Tarar warned the party of action over its alleged campaign against martyrs of the Mir Ali checkpost attack, while Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif regretted that the PTI’s ‘love of power’ had become so intense that “you make fun of those who sacrificed their lives for Pakistan”.

In a rejoinder, senior PTI leader Asad Qaiser censured both Mr Asif and Mr Tarar for criticising his party over its alleged involvement in an “insulting campaign” against the martyrs of Pakistan Army and security forces personnel, saying they were running “misleading propaganda” against PTI.

Seven troops, including two officers, embraced martyrdom when militants targeted a paramilitary camp in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan on Saturday. The security forces later killed six militants in a clearance operation.

“The smear campaign against martyrs is not acceptable as it has not only hurt the sentiments of families of martyrs but also the entire nation,” Mr Tarar told a press conference in Lahore.

He said those behind the “vile campaign” were being identified and stern action would be taken against them.

He said the social media accounts involved in the malicious campaign had been reported to relevant platforms, but regretted that no action was taken by the authorities concerned as the accounts were still operational.

“The PTI is involved in disrespecting martyrs,” he said, citing the examples of the Lasbela helicopter crash in 2022 and May 9, when state institutions came under attack, martyrs’ memorials were vandalised.

Answering a question, he said many accounts involved in the vile campaign were being operated from outside the country, but some followers of these accounts were in the country. He said many accounts were also being operated from Pakistan, adding that legal action would be taken against them.

The minister said some political elements wanted to harm the national economy for their vested interests through negative tactics like writing letters to the IMF.

He said PTI should have openly condemned those who had demonstrated outside IMF offices in the US and sent petitions to the European Union to revoke Pakistan’s GSP+ status.

In Sialkot, Defence Minister Asif condemned the nefarious campaign against martyrs on social media, APP reported. “Our martyrs are our pride, but there is no doubt that those who gave wrong remarks against them are in touch with terrorists,” he told a presser.

He added that the army personnel, who embraced martyrdom while defending the motherland against the scourge of terrorism in Mir Ali, were ridiculed by a political party on social media.

Targeting PTI, he said that loss of power and the love of power had become so intense that “you are making fun of those who sacrificed their lives for Pakistan. I think there can be no greater enmity with Pakistan”.

Mr Asif said dragging martyrs into differences over elections is a very shameful act and the party which is doing this, has actually lost its identity and today it is a nameless party. The minister said no one knows who is running the PTI today.

He pointed out that these people through letters to the IMF and US Congress members said that Pakistan should not be given loans. He said writing a letter to IMF is equivalent to anti-nationalism.

PTI rejects accusation

However, PTI leader Qaiser hit back at the two ministers, saying his party always acknowledged the sacrifices made by the soldiers defending the country’s borders, Geo News reported.

“Those using soldiers’ martyrdom for their political gains are not the well-wishers of the nation,” he said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The former National Assembly speaker further said that “nation is proud of each and every soldier protecting the country”.

PTI leader Barrister Saif also assailed the PML-N, saying the ruling party was dragging the martyrs into politics for political gains.

He said PTI is a patriotic party and denied its involvement in any campaign maligning the martyrs.

Published in Dawn, March 18th, 2024

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