ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Muslim League -Nawaz (PML-N) Quaid and former prime minister Mian Nawaz Sharif on Thursday barred the party members from holding private meetings with military leadership of the country. He took to Twitter to state that from now onward, no one from his party will hold individual or delegation - level meetings with the military leadership and those representing the associated agencies. 

“If national security or constitutional requirements demanded so, such meetings will be held after approval from the party leadership in future and will be made public,” he said further on his personal Twitter account. The statement came a day after head of media wing of the military; DG ISPR disclosed that senior PML-N leader and former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair, in the past few weeks, had twice met with Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed legal and political issues pertaining to Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz.

PML-N supremo further said that the recent events have once again proved how some meetings remained secret while others were made public and given meanings of own choice. He was referring to the disclosures made by DG ISPR a day earlier that some of the party members were in contact with the military leadership. “This game should stop now,” Nawaz added. He said that he was prohibiting his party members from meeting representatives of military and associated agencies in order to fulfill constitutional obligations and to remind the armed forces to comply with their oath. 

Federal Minister for Railways Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had also, a day after the opposition’s APC on September 21, revealed that major opposition politicians, including Leader of the Opposition in NA Shehbaz Sharif; PML-N parliamentary leader in National Assembly, Khawaja Asif and PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal had met the COAS and DG ISI in recent days.

The disclosures followed Nawaz’s ‘anti-institutions’ speech at the opposition’s September 20 all parties conference in which he had lashed out at the army and some of the state institutions, saying there was a ‘state-above-the-state’ in the country and the APC’s communique calling for an end to ‘establishment’s interference in country’s politics’.

The controversy kicked off soon after the opposition’s all parties’ conference in last week when Federal Minister for RailwayS Shaikh Rasheed Ahmed revealed that the opposition leaders held meetings with military top brass in last two months.  

Most of the people were referring his claim towards a secret national security briefing of military leadership to civil side on Gilgit-Baltistan. 

However, the issue took another turn on Wednesday when Armed Forces Spokesman Major-General Babar Iftikhar claimed that former Sindh governor and PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair had met with the army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa not once but twice in past some weeks.

“One meeting was held in the last week of August and the second meeting was held on September 7. DG ISI was also present in both meetings. Both the meetings were held on request made by Mohammad Zubair and in both the meetings, Zubair raised issues regarding Mian Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz,” the military’s spokesperson said. 

“In these meetings, the army chief made it clear to him that the legal issues of both of them would be resolved in Pakistani courts and political issues would be resolved in Pakistani parliament. Army should be kept away from these issues,” the ISPR DG said, adding that he would make no more comments over the issue. 

Following ISPR DG’s comments, PML-N leader Muhammad Zubair also confirmed his meetings with the COAS Bajwa but he stressed he did not sought any favour for his party leader and his daughter. 

Muhammad Zubair also claimed that he met with the army chief as he had decade’s long personal relations with COAS.