Appointment of new army chief PM’s constitutional discretion: Shehbaz
Says he trashed Imran Khan’s proposal for jointly appointing army chief and deciding election date: Confirms he green-signalled ISI chief’s presser: Vows govt will protect Islamabad from any ‘aggression’
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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has made it clear that the appointment of the new army chief is purely a ‘constitutional discretion’ of the prime minister and there is no need for consultations with anyone on this issue, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Talking to a group of YouTubers and vloggers in Lahore, Shehbaz Sharif expressed the hope that he wanted to accomplish this task amicably.
During the interaction, Shehbaz Sharif revealed that ousted prime minister Imran Khan had approached him through a mutual friend who was a business and not a political personality for talks on two issues – the appointment of the country’s new chief of the army staff and a date for early election date.
He said Imran Khan had conveyed that he will propose three names and asked him (Shehbaz Sharif) to also propose three names for the appointment of new army chief to set the process into motion and then pick the new army chief from those names.
Shehbaz said he outrightly dismissed Imran Khan’s proposal, and instead offered him dialogue for the betterment of democracy and the economy. “I flatly rejected Imran Khan’s offer by simply saying ‘Thank you’.” he added.
Mentioning Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief and military spokesperson’s presser, the prime minister disclosed that he greenlighted the press conference of both the generals after the ISI chief sought his permission for holding the news conference.
Shehbaz Sharif, delving into details, said the ISI chief wanted to hold the presser as the latter was an eyewitness to the meeting between Imran Khan and General Bajwa.
"He (DG ISI) told me that he should go for a press conference because he was an eyewitness to the meetings that took place between the army chief and Imran Khan and DG ISPR was not there and he would speak in a measured way. And then he brought the whole thing before the public with a very appropriate choice of words."
The Prime Minister further said that Imran Khan is currently targeting the army leadership only to fulfil his personal desires. "The people who raised Imran Niazi by feeding him milk with their own hands, he is now venting poison against them. No one is safe from his evil," he declared.
He also mentioned that the frustrated politician was currently targeting those who fostered him, saying no one was safe from his mischief. “Imran can go to any length to take back the premiership,” he added.
Shehbaz, however, warned that the government will, by all means, protect the federal capital from any “kind of aggression”.
Shehbaz also revealed Imran Khan had also offered him to decide the date for new elections and announce it jointly.
He said, "I rejected both of Imran Khan's offers. I told the person who brought the message to go back and tell Imran Niazi that at first he was not worthy of holding any consultations with me and now why did he need me?"
When he was asked whether the long march of Tehreek-e-Insaaf can also go to Rawalpindi? He said, "There is no doubt that this person can do anything. Nothing is impossible. But the government will protect Pindi and Islamabad from any such aggression."
He said, "When the institutions were helping Imran Khan in every way, we remained silent considering only as if they were doing it for the sake of the country. But when he failed and they ended their support, Imran Khan stood against them.”
Govt to foil attempts to create crises
Shehbaz said it was the responsibility of the elected coalition government to ensure stability in the country and they would not allow anyone to create political and economic crises. He reiterated that any wrong attempt to enter the Red Zone would be thwarted under the relevant laws.
Shehbaz said PTI leader Imran Niazi had the sole personal agenda, and he was hell-bent on pushing the country into turmoil and economic destruction for the achievement of his vested interests. “Expect everything from the person. Unfortunately, Imran Niazi’s thinking revolves around his personal vested interests. Even he did not spare his close friends who were sidelined,” he added.
He observed that PTI leader even did not spare the institution that had been rendering unmatched sacrifices for the protection of the motherland and was out to malign it to the pleasure of enemies of Pakistan including India. India was now portraying him as their hero, he added.
Another China visit, another long march
Shehbaz said unfortunately, once again a long march and sit-in was announced by the PTI leadership when he would be visiting China and recollected that during Chinese President Xi’s visit in 2013 similar sit-in was staged, adding dirty clothes were hanged on the premises of buildings in the red zone and roads were littered with garbage.
The then Chinese ambassador met PTI chief and requested him to vacate the place for few days during the visit, but he refused. For seven months, the visit was postponed which had also shaken the trust of country’s friends, he added.
Shehbaz said said the close party leaders of PTI were claiming that the long march could be turned bloody. The PTI government had left the country’s economy in tatters and the current government was striving to build it from the straw, he maintained.
He said during their rule, not a single penny corruption could be proved, whereas in the PTI tenure, through sugar and wheat scams, people made from the windfall. The low-priced gas during the Covid period was not imported, he added.
“What kind of relief the PTI chief had provided to the masses?” he questioned and said there could be no two opinions that Imran Niazi had the ‘narcissist agenda’. In the past, he had inflicted irreparable loss to the country which was not relevant to him considering his personal agenda.
Shehbaz averred the coalition government was grappling with the issues of unemployment and price hike worsened by the rising global oil prices.
Expressing his displeasure over the haughty attitude of the former prime minister, Shehbaz said Imran Niazi even did not like to shake hands with his political opponents in the parliament. Whether they had approached him when the PTI government made amendment over the army chief, he said, adding he told the messenger that he was ready for a dialogue to avoid crises, and to discuss the charters of economy and democracy, but the appointment of a new army chief.
Country’s biggest dacoity
The prime minister said that Imran Niazi had committed the country’s biggest dacoity by selling the precious gifts given to him by the foreign rulers as prime minister of Pakistan.
Under Toshakhana rules, he had to deposit these valuable gifts as prime minister and could purchase from there under set procedure, he said, adding that he had never heard of any former prime ministers selling out such precious gifts in the markets and taking away all the money with themselves.
With such commission of fraud and robbery, Imran Niazi had put the whole nation to shame. He also submitted a misdeclaration with the Election Commission of Pakistan, the prime minister said.
The prime minister said that Hitler was also supported by majority of people, but Imran Niazi had destroyed the economy and failed to deliver on his promises of providing homes and employment, instead he succeeded in regularizing his Bani Gala residence.
He said the PTI leader had failed to present his performance before the masses and he considered him (IK) ‘as the biggest dishonest man who had committed a fraud with the country’ and had hurt sentiments of the brotherly and friendly countries.
The prime minister said that he had served Punjab province for more than a decade as Khadam-e-Ala but all his public oriented projects were destroyed and brought to disrepute by the PTI’s government. Thousands of people were employed in a very transparent manner and purely on merit by his government, he added. While on the other hand, under Farah Gogi’s corruption cases bidding was held for different posts.
The prime minister questioned whether they had to leave behind a legacy of peace and progress or mere pushed the country into backwardness with mere hollow allegations, and stressed that they had to make collective efforts to make the nation robust and strong.
Huge investment coming
The prime minister to a query, assured that huge investment would be made in Pakistan in the coming days. The prime minister said that the armed forces had been paying huge price in the wars and war on terror. Imagine the days when Peshawar, Karachi, Lahore and Quetta were insecure due to specter of terrorism amid daily blasts, and not a single place was safe.
The country witnessed huge civilian’s casualties and shahadat of personnel of law enforcement agencies, he said, but Imran Niazi was spewing venom against the armed forces.
He said the PTI’s government was ousted due to a vote of no confidence in a constitutional manner. Imran Khan offered the army chief reappointment with the condition that the vote of no trust against him was averted.
The prime minister said that the army had fully supported Imran Khan for the betterment of Pakistan and such a support had never been witnessed in the last 75 years, but despite all this Imran Niazi had completely failed to deliver and now maligning the institution for his vested interests.
Niazi also encouraged the people like Gill and Azam Swati to issue statements against state institutions, he said, adding the PTI leader was ready to put the national interests at stake. He had never seen such a big liar like Imran Khan in his life, the prime minister maintained.
He said Imran Niazi had committed a 190 million pounds robbery which was equivalent to notorious 1960 train robbery.
The PM said the PTI’s trolls also launched smear campaign over Lasbella incident. He said the armed forces had secured Waziristan and Swat from terrorists after rendering immense sacrifices.
Latest audio leak
He said that with the recent Gandapur’s audio leak, no doubt was left over the long march as there would be no differences between the two PTI’s sit ins. The person who did not own a motherland stood nowhere, he said, adding that it was his conviction that such a person would not be forgiven by the history.
Dialogue with India
To a query, the prime minister said that holding of dialogue with India hinged upon its intentions to seriously discuss the key issue of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir where the Indian forces had been committing gross human rights violations and trampling the rights of Kashmiris.
About his recent visit to Saudi Arabia, the prime minister said that he had held a very constructive and positive meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman who had reiterated assurance for making investment in Pakistan.
The crown prince had expressed his readiness to support Pakistan, he said, adding that Saudi Arabia had always been a reliable partner and friend and always supported Pakistan in hard times without attaching any strings to its consistent support.
The prime minister said ties with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia were forged upon centuries old friendship, religion and spiritual affinities and strengthened with mutual friendship and trust. A huge number of Pakistani expatriates had been serving there.
He said the Saudi crown prince would soon visit Pakistan and would be accorded warm welcome by the Pakistani nation.
The prime minister further informed that the crown prince, upon his request, had waived off punishment awarded to those people making ruckus in the holy places.
He said that he would be undertaking a visit to China who was a trustworthy friend, and this trust was unfading as the Chinese and Pakistani leadership had always supported each other.
During 2015, these time-tested ties surged to new heights when then prime minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Chinese President Xi Jinping signed China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) under which 30 billion dollars investment was made and power generation plants were set up, producing hundreds of megawatts power at a time when the country was facing 20 hours load shedding.
He said the road infrastructure was also completed with the help of China, besides setting up nuclear power plants. The friendship between the two countries was higher than Himalayas and deeper than seas, he said and expressed that his upcoming visit would further strengthen these bilateral ties.
The prime minister said Nawaz Sharif with his sagacity had also set up gas fired power plants from the country’s own resources which produced 5000 MW.
He said the recent monsoon floods triggered by incessant rains had caused more than $40 billion losses to the country. He said the government had allocated more than Rs100 billion to support the flood affected families.
He said they had so far disbursed Rs70 billion among the deserving people in a very transparent manner under the Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP). Each family had been given Rs25,000 as cash support, besides provided them tents, mosquito nets, medicines and food packs and in these efforts, they were supported by other countries.
The prime minister said about 13000km roads were damaged in the floods, standing crops on 4 million acres of land were swept away, especially in Sindh.
He said the government had revived the IMF’s programme and saved Pakistan from default.