ISLAMABAD: PTI Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan has directed his party leaders and social media team to ensure that there is no criticism of the army and the new COAS General Asim Munir.
According to a PTI source, Imran Khan in a Whatsapp group of party leaders and PTI social media managers directed, “Please ensure there is no criticism of the new Chief and Army Staff.”
This direction of Imran Khan is a clear sign of the party’s effort to rebuild troubled relationships with the military establishment. The party source said that following the appointment of General Asim Munir as Army Chief, Imran Khan also does not want any reflection of what had happened between him and General Asim Munir during his prime ministership.
When approached, PTI senior leader Fawad Chaudhry did not confirm or deny Khan’s latest direction to his leaders and social media team but said that the party’s policy was not to have a confrontation with the institution.
Chaudhry explained that in the past, the PTI had issues with certain individuals and their policies. We never had any problem with the army as an institution which, he said, was vital for the security and defence of Pakistan.
On Wednesday, Imran Khan in a tweet congratulated General Sahir Shamshad Mirza as new CJCSC and General Syed Asim Munir as new Chief of Army Staff. Khan hoped, “The new military leadership will work to end prevailing trust deficit that has built up in the last 8 months between the nation and the state. Strength of the State is derived of its people.”
In the same tweet, Imran Khan shared Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s quote, “Do not forget that the armed forces are the servants of the people and you do not make national policy; it is we, the civilians, who decide these issues and it is your duty to carry out these tasks with which you are entrusted.” (Quaid-i-Azam to Armed Forces; Aug 14, 1947).
Following the appointment of new Army Chief, Imran Khan and the PTI made a major policy shift from what the former prime minister and his party leaders as well as social media team have been propagating for the last eight months.
Eversince his ouster from the PM’s Office, Imran Khan severely attacked the military establishment and held it responsible for the removal of his government. He also attacked the neutrality of the institution and repeatedly urged the military establishment under former Army Chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa to remove the present government and pave the way for general elections.
During all these months, the social media of the PTI ran innumerable campaigns targeting the military establishment, army’s top command. Abusive language has also been used in these campaigns. Some PTI leaders also used indecent language against the military establishment and its key players.
According to sources, Imran Khan initially had reservations about the appointment of General Asim Munir as army chief but later he changed his policy and said that he would have no objection no matter who was made the COAS.
During his premiership, Imran Khan had prematurely removed Asim Munir as DG ISI when the latter reportedly had informed the prime minister about alleged corrupt practices of some people close to Khan.
However, when Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif approved Asim Munir as Army Chief, President Dr Arif Alvi flew to Lahore to consult Imran Khan, who also agreed to the top military appointments made by the present government. Previously, Khan was insisting that the present government has no right to appoint a new army chief. He was of the view that Gen Bajwa could be given an extension to enable the new government following the next general elections to appoint the COAS.