Saturday July 13, 2024

Consequences if President Arif Alvi hinders COAS appointment, warns Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari made it clear that the country will only accept the appointment of COAS made by the prime minister, who is the only one constitutionally empowered to do so

By Asim Yasin
November 20, 2022
PPP chief Bilawal addressing a press conference in Islamabad on November 19, 2022. Screengrab of a Twitter video
PPP chief Bilawal addressing a press conference in Islamabad on November 19, 2022. Screengrab of a Twitter video

ISLAMABAD: The chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, made it clear that the country will only accept the appointment of COAS made by the prime minister, who is the only one constitutionally empowered to do so.

The foreign minister also said the president has the last chance to be on the right side of history by upholding the Constitution but will suffer the consequences if he tries to block the PM’s summary. “This is PPP’s considered view, and we will support the constitutional and legal appointment made by the prime minister,” he said while addressing a press conference here Saturday at Zardari House along with Secretary General of the PPP Parliamentarians Farhatullah Babar, PPP Secretary Information Faisal Karim Kundi, Senator Palwasha Khan, and PPP Media Coordinator Nazir Dhoki.

Bilawal said it is legally the prerogative of the prime minister. “The country will only accept the appointment made by the prime minister, and the PPP is of the same view and will support the constitutional and legal appointment made by Shehbaz Sharif,” he said.

In a response to a question, about if President Dr. Arif Alvi blocks the PM’s summary regarding the COAS appointment, Bilawal said it needs to be seen how he decides to go down in history, whether by upholding the Constitution or violating it and showing loyalty to his friend, in which case he will suffer the consequences. “If he opts to block the PM’s summary, it will have consequences,” he said.

The president, Bilawal said, tried to dissolve the National Assembly unconstitutionally during the no-trust motion. “Now he has the last chance, and hopefully he will follow the law and the Constitution, and hopefully he will abide by them,” he said.

The PPP chairman said Imran Khan’s long march does not have a democratic goal, as he has only done politics on the shoulders of undemocratic forces. Bilawal said that if “Haqeeqi Azaadi” and democracy are Imran Khan’s goals and he does not want to obstruct the transition, then why has he chosen to prevent the passage of appropriate files to the relevant ministries for the nomination of the new chief of army staff? “Why has Rawalpindi been chosen if the goal is not to push Pakistan towards dictatorship?”

His goal is to turn the legal and constitutional process controversial and play with the country’s destiny once again. “We cannot afford such politics for the sake of one man’s ego,” he said. Imran Khan, he said, is bent upon sabotaging this transition by any means. Fearing his narrow and personal political ambitions would flop, the PTI leadership felt threatened by the institutional decision to steer towards a constitutional role instead of a controversial one, he said. Bilawal said Imran Khan should not believe that he is fooling anyone by orchestrating this drama during this week in Rawalpindi. “Everyone knows what your goal is, which is to play with the country once again.” “This is Khan’s last-ditch effort to sabotage the democratic transition,” he said. He said the PPP neutralised his previous attempt to conspire and will also succeed in foiling this one. He said Imran Khan and some politicians like him felt their future is linked to the institution’s controversial role, which is why he made every possible effort to sabotage the first-ever successful democratic and constitutional no-confidence motion with the help of apolitical institutions. The PPP chairman said he was on record as saying that the PTI government had threatened us with either martial law or new elections. On the eve of the no-trust motion, the PTI leader stooped so low as to offer an indefinite extension to COAS, which he declined in the larger interests of the country. Imran also tried to manipulate the parliament to avert the constitutional process. In May, Imran attacked Islamabad and proceeded to sabotage the IMF deal being negotiated, thereby plunging the country into a worse economic crisis than the one he had left it in. Bilawal said he was sending a message to Imran Khan and the undemocratic forces on his side to stop playing this dangerous game. “Neither Pakistan nor its people can afford this. The precedent you are trying to set now is perilous for Pakistan’s future,” he said. He asked Imran to put off his Rawalpindi protest until the constitutional transition is complete. Imran can always return to the city to raise his demands, the PPP chairman said. He said we are demanding this from the PTI leader as we are all politicians and must bid farewell to politics that hurt the country. Bilawal said a man was imposed on the country, and the people had to tolerate him as their prime minister to witness and suffer the adverse outcomes of the choice on the political environment and the country’s democracy, as well as on foreign policy and an economy teetering on default. Responding to questions regarding the delay of the visit of Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman, Bilawal said that in 2014, President Xi’s visit to Pakistan was unfortunately delayed because Khan prioritised his ego over national interest. “As the foreign minister, I cannot say that the Saudi Crown Prince, Muhammad Bin Salman’s visit was delayed solely due to the situation caused by Khan.” “His visit to other countries was also delayed, but I believe that the political situation in the country at the time might have played a role in the decision as well,” he said. Asked about the legal action against the PTI chairman, the PPP chairman said the law and interior ministries can provide an answer to that query.

To a question about PPP’s long march on Rawalpindi, he said when they staged the protests, no such critical appointment was taking place, and they only wanted to hold the gathering on Dec 27 in the city where the late Benazir Bhutto was martyred. He said Imran Khan is mistaken in believing he will gain political advantage by undermining democracy, because “history is witness to how only undemocratic forces benefited whenever democracy was attacked.” In response to a question regarding the JIT formed by the Punjab government on the attack on Imran Khan, the PPP chairman said that even if there is no federal representative, the investigation should take place in an unbiased manner. “If it is conducted fairly, then everyone would accept it. If it is politicised, then it too would become controversial,” he said. In response to a question about the delay in the appointment of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa governor, Bilawal said it was intended for the ANP’s candidate and that the PDM should consider whether its lack of consensus would give Imran Khan an unfair advantage. Regarding the governor’s rule in Punjab, he said he would like to advise Imran Khan not to compel us to make a decision that we do not want to take. To another question, he said that he has confidence in Prime Minister Shehbaz and his economic team to deliver the country from the present turmoil.