ISLAMBAD - Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan Wednesday came out to counter the criticism on army for brokering deal between government and Tehreek-e-Labbaik Ya Rasool Allah (TLYR).
Addressing a press conference, Khan said that government in particular and the masses in general should be thankful to Pakistan Army for its timely intervention to end the chaotic situation that had started spawning the whole country.
He also expressed his annoyance over the remarks of Islamabad High Court judge Shaukat Aziz Siddique, who had criticised the army for playing a mediator and questioned the legitimacy of government-TLYR agreement.
Hearing petitions against TLYR sit-in, which brought miseries to the citizens of Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Justice Siddique blasted the government for accepting the protest leadership as a legitimate party which, according to the court, had apparently committed an ‘act of terrorism’ through occupying Faizabad Interchange for over three weeks.
He also severely criticised army for flouting the constitutional limits through brokering such an agreement and becoming a guarantor to it.
The judge’s remarks invited disapproval of centre and rightwing circles but he was greatly hailed for showing courage of taking a legal and just stand in face of the powerful army.
Imran Khan said that his party activists were also ready to join the protest and he was under immense pressure from party workers to do so.
“We faced huge pressure from the party workers from across the country who wanted to join the protest, not for political purpose but to show their allegiance to the belief of finality of prophethood of Hazrat Muhamamd (PBUH),” he said.
Alleging that some “international lobby” was behind making controversial changes in the declaration regarding Khatm-e-Nabuwat laws, he demanded an inquiry to fix responsibility for the changes made in the oath for the electoral candidates. The delay in this regard would only deepen doubts in the minds of pubic, he added.
PTI chairman alleged that ruling PNL-N silently made the amendment [which now stands reversed] to please some international lobby as they had appeased Indian lobby through Dawn Leaks.”
“Government should make it public whether it was an international conspiracy; a mistake committed by former law minister Zahid Hamid, or someone else introduced the amendment silently,” he demanded.
He said that government was telling a lie that all political parties were on board on the final draft of the Election Bill 2017. He demanded that PML-N should make public minutes of the parliamentary committee who finalised the draft.
Interestingly, the controversial bill was passed by lawmakers from all the parties, including the PTI. Moreover, no serious demand was made by any party to sack the law minister or carry out any inquiry into the whole affair. Now that it has become a popular issue in the backdrop of Faizabad sit-in, PTI and some other parties are apparently trying to capitalise on it, especially because the next general elections are only months away.
Imran Khan also reiterated his demand of early elections and said early elections was the only way forward to get rid of deepening crises as current situation was causing immense damage to democracy in the country.
He defended TLYR’s right to protest saying that protest was part of democratic process and government was responsible to deal with it effectively through dialogue.
The TLYR showed significant electoral strength in two recently held by-elections in Lahore and Peshawar, but it has no representation in the parliament. The leadership of Sunni-Brelvi pressure group has been alleged by some observers of blowing the sensitive issue out of proportions for political advantage, in run up to the general elections.
The charge is however denied by TLYR, which gained popularity through hailing Mumtaz Qadri – a former policeman who was hanged for murdering Punjab ex-governor Salmaan Taseer over unproven blasphemy accusations.
Imran Khan criticised the way Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal handled the Faizabad protesters and added that government’s incompetence was evident from that.
He also criticised Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Ahsan for holding Iqamas [residency permits] of gulf countries. He alleged that Sharif family and ministers of the PML-N government used their Iqamas to launder money.
“Khaja Asif is minister for defence as well as water and power but at the same time he is servant of a foreign company which used to pay him Rs1.7 million,” he claimed.
He said that as per the employment agreement, Asif is supposed to work five days a week and eight hours a day for that company. He alleged that the minister through an undeclared bank account transferred thousands of dirhams to the account of his wife.
Imran defends army role in ending sit-in