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Tuesday February 07, 2023

President’s caution to Imran Khan about ‘red barrier’

Imran reportedly cautioned after change of command in army to strictly direct leaders not to attack new army chief, military

December 06, 2022
File photo of President Arif Alvi and PTI Chief in a meeting.
File photo of President Arif Alvi and PTI Chief in a meeting. 

ISLAMABAD: PTI chairman Imran Khan was reportedly cautioned after the change of command in the army by President Arif Alvi to strictly direct his leaders and social media team not to attack the new army chief and the military.

A PTI source while sharing a screenshot of the Whatsapp message conveyed to the party leadership and the social media team, claimed that President Alvi conveyed to Khan that the new military establishment respect of the institution is like a ‘red-barrier,’ which should not be crossed.

PTI’s leading spokesman Fawad Chaudhry when asked about the president’s reported message to Imran Khan, said that both the president and the PTI chairman were already clear that there would be no attack on the new military establishment and the army chief. “There can’t be a perpetual fight with the institution,” he said.

Fawad Chaudhry wondered why the PTI would criticise General Asim Munir, because his appointment was facilitated by PTI Chairman Imran Khan. He said that the new army chief brings new policy and the PTI hoped that what the military establishment under Gen (R) Bajwa allegedly did to the PTI during the last 7-8 months would not be done now.

In that Whatsapp group of “PTI Parliamentary Party”, the message of Imran Khan was conveyed. It said “Chairman has directed all social media not to attack the new COAS on any forum & above to be strictly followed.” The person who shared the chairman’s message emphasised that everybody should be informed of Khan’s direction.

This whatsapp direction of Imran Khan appears to be different from a similar message conveyed to PTI leaders and social media team recently as was reported in The News. Regarding this message a PTI source had told this correspondent that Imran Khan in a Whatsapp group of party leaders and PTI social media managers had directed, “Please ensure there is no criticism of the new Chief of Army Staff.”

These directions of Imran Khan are a clear sign of the party’s effort to rebuild troubled relationships with the military establishment. Although the PTI has fundamentally changed its policy towards the military establishment with the change of command, Imran Khan himself is heard targeting ISI senior officer only a couple of days back.

Khan again called the senior ISI officer “Dirty Harry”. Two days back, Khan also tweeted to convey a subtle complaint to the present military establishment over handling of PTI Senator Azam Swati.

Khan tweeted, “The entire nation is shocked at the vindictive cruelty Senator Azam Swati is being subjected to & for what crime? For intemperate language & asking questions which is the right of anyone in a democracy? Internationally Pak & esp(cially) our mly (military) is being perceived increasingly negatively bec(ause) the present Imported govt is seen as a mere puppet govt. One had hoped the new mly (military) ldrship (leadership) would have immed(iately) disassociated from the 8 mths (months) of Bajwa’s fascist actions against PTI, the media & critical journalists. The 74 yr (years) old heart patient Senator Swati must be released immed(iately) not only bec(ause) he has committed no crime to deserve this mental & physical torture, but also because this petulant & vengeful targeting is undermining our mly’s (military’s) credibility which is critical for a strong Pakistan.”

Last week, Imran Khan in a tweet had congratulated General Sahir Shamshad Mirza as CJCSC and General Syed Asim Munir as new Chief of Army Staff. Khan hoped, “The new military leadership will work to end the prevailing trust deficit that has built up in the last 8 months between the nation and the state. Strength of the State is derived from its people.”

In the same tweet, Imran Khan had 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). Through these tweets and his continuing targeting of senior ISI officer, Imran Khan appears to be exerting pressure on the present military leadership to make certain changes in the ISI.

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