- Ex-PM Imran Khan says he’ll give “proper reply” at Peshawar jalsa.
- PTI chairman says PDM’s “cabal of crooks” maligning him.
- Military, ruling coalition castigated him over anti-army speech.
Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan said Tuesday he’d had enough of the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) “cabal of crooks” propagating to malign him.
PDM — the ruling parties who have formed the government after ousting Khan from the prime minister’s office in April — severely criticised Khan’s recent comments against the military and its top brass.
The armed forces were also livid following the PTI chairman’s Faisalabad jalsa speech, where he said that if a “patriotic” army chief were appointed, he would not spare the incumbent rulers.
In response, Khan tweeted that he was following the “intense propaganda” launched by the PDM’s “cabal of crooks” against him, which stems from them being “petrified of PTI’s soaring popularity”.
“Today in [the] Peshawar jalsa, I will give [a] proper reply to all those who have deliberately been distorting my words to malign me. Enough is enough,” the former prime minister warned.
In a statement on Monday, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the Pakistani Army was displeased over the PTI chairman’s recent statement against the military and said it was “aghast” over it.
The military’s media wing said that regrettably, an attempt was made to discredit and undermine the senior leadership of the army at a time when the institution was laying lives for the “security and safety of the people every day”.
The army said that senior politicians trying to stir controversies over the appointment of the COAS, the procedure for which is well-defined in the Constitution, is “most unfortunate and disappointing”.
The ISPR said the senior leadership of the army has decades-long impeccable and meritorious service to prove its “patriotic and professional credentials beyond any doubt”.
Ruling parties censure PTI chairman
Hours before the military’s response, the ruling coalition had castigated the PTI chairman for his remarks at the Faisalabad jalsa.
In a joint statement, the ruling coalition condemned Khan’s public meeting for spreading hatred against the Pakistan Army and its leadership and making “sensitive professional matters” controversial.
The entire nation is battling floods, while the PTI chairman is consumed by a thirst for revenge and his pride, the statement said, noting that despite the cataclysmic floods, Khan is targetting the armed forces.
The ruling partners said that the serious allegations being levelled against the military are for three reasons: to disturb the country’s economy, to move Pakistan’s economy to a path that it becomes like that of Sri Lanka, and foster enmity between the nation and the armed forces.
“With the power of the Constitution and law, we will thwart this nefarious conspiracy and deal with the conspirators in line with the constitution and law,” the statement said.
Fear of ‘patriotic’ army chief
In his speech at a jalsa in Faisalabad last Sunday, the PTI chairman said the coalition government was stalling the elections as they wanted to “appoint an army chief of their own choice.”
The PTI chairman said that PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and former premier Nawaz Sharif “feared” a strong and patriotic army chief, who could hold them accountable for the looted money they had stashed abroad.
The former prime minister said a new army chief was going to be appointed in November this year, and they [Zardari and Nawaz] jointly wanted to appoint a favourite [general] as the next army chief.
Both have committed corruption worth billions, and they wanted to appoint an army chief who could protect them and their corruption, Imran Khan alleged.
The PTI chair alleged that PM Shehbaz, his brother Nawaz, and Zardari had been involved in laundering the public money, and the two families had been looting the national exchequer for the last 30 years.