ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan and his party will neither want a confrontation with the new military establishment nor President Dr Arif Alvi will show any resistance or create any hurdle in the appointment of the army chief by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, a senior PTI leader has claimed.
Talking to The News on Thursday on condition of not being named, the PTI leader said that Khan and the party leadership will not make the new army chief’s appointment controversial. He confirmed that the president will also ensure a smooth process for the appointment.
“We will accept the new army chief without bothering who is appointed by the prime minister,” the PTI leader said in a clear indication that the party does not like to continue with its present policy of confrontation with the military establishment.
He rejected the fear among some government circles that the president may delay the appointment of the army chief because of Khan’s recent statements on the issue. “I assure you the president will not create any problem,” he said, adding that this was the party policy.
It is said that the issue of PTI’s confrontation with the military establishment has been discussed within the party and a decision has been taken not to have a confrontational relationship with the establishment under the new army chief.
The PTI leader said that Khan has not even mentioned the name of the officer who he has been targeting in connection with the murder of Arshad Sharif and attack on him, in his last four to five speeches.
Ever since his ouster from the Prime Minister’s Office, Khan adopted the policy of extreme confrontation with the military establishment. He targeted all the key players of the military establishment for one reason or the other in order to pressurise it to remove the present government and hold early elections.
His and his party’s relations with the military establishment got from bad to worse when he blamed the military establishment for facilitating and supporting the alleged US conspiracy to oust him from power and replace his government with the present coalition led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. Because of Khan’s public bashing of the military establishment, his supporters and social media team ran repeated campaigns against the military top leadership and the institution.
Things went beyond limits when Khan alleged the institutions of murdering Arshad Sharif, which led to the first-ever press conference addressed by the ISI DG. Khan remained unstoppable and later when he was attacked in Warizabad during the PTI’s ongoing long march, he named a serving high-ranking officer as one of the three who had allegedly conspired to assassinate him. Besides the officer, he named Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
Regarding the appointment of the new army chief, Khan initially contended that the present government and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had no right to appoint the army chief. He was of the view that the incumbent army chief should be given an extension till the next general elections and formation of newly-elected government which, he insisted, should have the authority to appoint the army chief.
When the incumbent army chief hinted that he would not be interested in any further extension, Khan in a background interaction with media persons in Islamabad objected to one of the lieutenant generals running for the top military position. Later, he withdrew from that too and now the PTI chief’s policy is to accept the new army chief, no matter who is appointed by the prime minister.
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