ISLAMABAD - The military leadership has stressed that the army should not be dragged in political matters as it was not associated with any political activity in the country, Railways Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad claimed on Monday.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa has told leaders of all major parliamentary parties of the country that the army did not want to get involved in political matters, the federal minister for Pakistan Railways told a private TV channel while quoting the army chief.

Sh. Rasheed said that COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa and Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, last week, had met leaders of major 15 political parties including opposition to discuss with them the administrative matters of Gilgit Baltistan (GB).

The opposition political leaders included Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and leader of opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Ameer Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Sirajul Haq and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) leader Asad Mahmood besides other politicians.

Sheikh Rasheed said that major opposition parties were silent for the last one year as they were busy in bargaining to find a middle way for them in the wake of the on-going corruption cases against them. “But the COAS in the meeting told all political parliamentary leaders that the army did not want to get involved in your matters. We have no interest in your matters and this is your own business to deal with,” the minister said.

“The COAS said that they wanted to take Pakistan forward. We are concerned about Pakistan,” the minister said adding that all political leaders agreed in the meeting that GB would be provisionally made part of Pakistan either before or after elections,” Sheikh Rasheed said.

The COAS told the meeting that political parties should decide at their own about the timing of making GB part of Pakistan.

The Minister for Railways said that the military leadership said that the army would stand by every elected civilian government as far as integrity and development of the country is concerned. “The COAS said that tomorrow you (opposition) will be elected, army would stand by you,” said the minister.

He also said that the military leadership made it clear that they will not allow anyone to bring instability in the country. They said that they have to defeat all international lobbies working in Pakistan and told the leadership that it was their duty to dig out why some international pressure is being exerted on Pakistan, which forces are conspiring against it and what was India conspiring against it? “All this is a well thought out conspiracy against Pakistan,” the minister said quoting the military leadership.

The minister also said that the military leadership assured the meeting that as long as a single soldier of Pakistan army is there, they will not allow such conspiracies to succeed.