Asad Qaiser rejects DG ISPR’s ‘unconstitutional’ demand of PTI apology over May 9 riots

Published May 24, 2024
PTI MNA Asad Qaiser speaks in an interview on Friday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI MNA Asad Qaiser speaks in an interview on Friday. — DawnNewsTV

Former National Assembly speaker and PTI MNA Asad Qaiser on Friday termed the Inter-Services Public Relations’ (ISPR) demand for an apology from PTI founder Imran Khan for the events of May 9 as “unconstitutional”.

ISPR Director General (DG) Maj-Gen Ahmed Sharif on May 7 had said that any dialogue with the PTI could happen only if it “earnestly apologises publicly in front of the nation”, promises to adopt “constructive politics” and forgoes “politics of anarchy”.

Imran has refused to apologise for the May 9 riots, saying he was under detention at the time and was unaware of the protests. Imran mentioned that he became aware when he appeared before the then-chief justice of Pakistan, Umar Ata Bandial.

May 9 holds significant importance in the country’s political landscape as it was on this day last year when military installations came under attack following Imran’s arrest, which formed the basis of a severe state crackdown against him and his party.

Speaking on the matter in an interview with DawnNewsTV programme ‘Doosra Rukh’ today, Qaiser said, “It is unconstitutional for any institution to speak like this in public.”

He added that “we should all apologise before God”, further saying that there was “no possibility of an apology [to the ISPR]”.

“I am a Pakistani,” Qaiser said. “If I speak against one of my institutions, it causes me great pain. I am not ready to speak against my army and we should respect our institutions.”

Taking office in 2018 a ‘mistake’

Asked about whether the party made any mistakes under Imran’s leadership, the ex-NA speaker admitted that taking government in 2018 with a “weak mandate” was one of them.

“We should not have taken on a weak government [in 2018],” Qaiser said. “We were compromised because we inherited a weak mandate unable to pass legislation.”

When asked why the party took office and if there was any pressure, Qaiser deemed the decision “a mistake” in his opinion.

He further said that whether the decision to dissolve the assemblies in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab was right or wrong “is a matter for debate”.

“I cannot say [whether it was correct] because it was a collective decision by the party,” he said. “My opinion was different, we should have maintained our assemblies.”

Dissatisfaction with government

Qaiser expressed his dissatisfaction with the government and accused it of pursuing an agenda to stifle freedom of speech.

He said the greatest challenge facing Pakistan was the absence of the Constitution and the rule of law. “We are under civil martial law,” he said.

“Human rights and free speech are being stifled, with laws being put in place to limit what people can say.”

Qaiser added that the PTI would protest Punjab’s controversial defamation law in the national assembly.

“We will challenge this new law in the courts,” Qaiser said, adding that the PTI would meet with journalists’ organisations within the coming days for consultations on how to move forward.

Asked about the longevity of the current administration, Qaiser said that the PML-N “will become the PML-Q (Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid) not long from now”.

“Nawaz Sharif is calculating how much longer his party will last,” he said. “In the future, I see the PML-N becoming the PML-Q. Mark my words.”

“They are sitting in office on a fake mandate,” Qaiser added. “His (Shehbaz Sharif’s) brother has lost, his niece has lost and she is an illegitimate chief minister.”

He expressed that he was “99 per cent certain” that the public considered the administration to be illegitimate.

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