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Army not backing Imran: PML-N

ISLAMABAD: The government claimed on Monday that the army had no role in the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) planned ‘lockdown’ of the capital city and contended that party leaders were merely giving that impression in order to topple the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) government.

“Imran Khan and Sheikh Rashid are fooling the nation into believing that the army is with the PTI and will make their agitation a success,” said PML-N MNA Tallal Chaudhry.

Addressing a press conference at the Press Information Department (PID) alongside Privatisation Commission Chairman Mohammad Zubair, he said that if the impression of army backing were to be set aside, the PTI’s “lockdown” plan carried no weight.

However, he was reluctant to respond when asked why the government did not ask the army to issue a statement or a tweet to remove the ambiguity about the army’s role. “The information minister and other government functionaries have tried a number of times in the recent past to dispel this impression and have assured the nation that the army has nothing to do with PTI’s agitation,” he added.

Mr Chaudhry said Imran Khan had also given a similar, false impression during the 2014 sit-in when he implied that a “third force” was backing his party. “But if that was true, it would have come to the fore,” the PML-N MNA said.

He questioned Mr Khan’s tendency to drag the army into politics. “The entire nation respects our armed forces and admires their sacrifices for the sake of our motherland, but Imran Khan is trying to drag this otherwise respectable institution into the political sphere,” he added.

When asked about the possibility of arresting PTI leaders, including Imran Khan, ahead of the Nov 2 lockdown, the PML-N MNA said that all steps would be taken to ensure peace and order in the federal capital.

“No one will be allowed to take law into their hands. No one will be allowed to revolt,” he said.

He accused Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervez Khattak of planning to use provincial government machinery to bring PTI workers to Islamabad.

Mr Zubair asked why Mr Khan, who was so quick to accuse others of money laundering, tax evasion and establishing offshore companies, did not reply to similar allegations that were levelled against him,” he added.

When asked why the government did not present this evidence before a court of law, Mr Zubair claimed that such offences could not be challenged in a court as they had been committed 27 years ago, in 1983. “However, we laid them before the appropriate forum — the office of the National Assembly speaker — who has forwarded a reference to the Election Commission of Pakistan for action,” he said.

Published in Dawn October 25th, 2016

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