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December 1, 2019

Ahsan Iqbal asks PTI govt not to hide behind army over its failures

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December 1, 2019

LAHORE: The Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) leader and former interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal, said on Saturday the government is hiding behind the armed forces and Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa over its failures.

He said the way the government handled the army chief's extension, it has turned Pakistan into a laughing stock in the world. "Don't hide behind the armed forces and the army chief for your failures," he said. "The armed forces and the army chief are institutions of the country. They do not belong to the PTI," he said. The PML-N leader said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government is running the country on experimental basis, which would not work for long.

Amer Malik adds: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) doubts Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) intention to grant extension to Chief of Army Staff (COAS), as the latter is targeting the opposition in an organised way so that no consensus develops over the required legislation.

Following Supreme Court judgment to allow army chief extension for six months, the PTI government needs amending Article 243 within the stipulated time period for appointing an army chief or giving him extension. The federal government needs two-thirds majority in both houses of the parliament for the purpose.

“The PTI government needs opposition’s cooperation to make the required amendment, but it is deliberately jeopardising its chances through a verbal assault on the opposition,” said PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal while addressing a press conference here on Saturday. He was flanked by senior PML-N leaders including Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Pervaiz Malik and party’s Punjab Information Secretary Azma Bokhari at the party’s Model Town Secretariat.

The PTI government is trying to hide its inefficiency and failures behind the issue of extension to COAS and politicising a national institution in the process. “The institution of army and its chief do not belong only to the PTI,” he said, and warned the government to stop the tirade against the opposition, especially in a matter involving national security and country's solidarity.

When asked why the PML-N and the PPP did not legislate the rules of service of the COAS, he said his party never granted extension to an army chief. When asked about PML-N’s policy on legislating about the COAS service rules as per the SC order, he said the party would review the SC's detailed judgment and take a decision after proper consultation to play its constitutional role in the parliament. Ahsan said the PTI government’s irresponsible statements on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) made the project controversial at the international level, which was reflected in a strong response from United States Assistant Secretary Alice Wells.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, Sheikh Rashid Ahmad, Murad Saeed and others are making CPEC controversial through false accusations of corruption against the PML-N to malign its political rival.

After making a complete mess of the issues of COAS extension and CPEC, Ahsan Iqbal said the PTI government is now been trying to create a chaos on the issue of appointment of Chief Election Commission (CEC) before incumbent’s expiry of tenure on Dec 6, 2019, which is aimed at making the body dysfunctional to escape foreign funding case. He regretted that Prime Minister Imran Khan is not serious in evolving a national consensus on the appointment of Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), though the opposition leader in National Assembly had written a letter with a recommendation of three names for appointment amongst them as CEC.

He said the PTI government was only conducting investigation into PML-N successful projects in order to target the opposition, saying that there is no probe into the PTI’s “unsuccessful projects” such as the white elephant of Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) Peshawar, devaluation of currency and the scandal of hike in medicine prices, leading to removal of the federal health minister, whose case was never referred to National Accountability Bureau. “Narowal Sports City – a project I am being made victim of, has been left in ruins and astro turf, procured for Rs65 million, is being destroyed,” he added.

When will there be an independent inquiry, he said, the PTI government would turn out to be the most corrupt government ever, overshadowing all previous scandals of corruption. He said inflation is sky-rocketing and unemployment is also on the rise, saying people are unable to buy tomatoes, onions and potatoes. “The economic growth has declined from 5.2 to 2 per cent due to ill-thought-out drop in imports and insignificant increase in exports,” he said, adding that the government is celebrating the control of the current account deficit , which actually manifests the halt of country’s economy instead of an achievement.

“The agricultural input cost has increased manifold, industrial growth and production has stunted, students’ scholarships and laptops withdrawn and higher education budget is curtailed,” he added.

The PML-N secretary general condemned the PTI government over its failure to highlight Kashmir issue despite the Indian lock down and information blackout in Jammu and Kashmir continues for beyond 120 days, which had made the valley worse than Palestine.

“Why PM Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi have not visited Islamic countries or haven’t sent their special envoys to foreign countries to shake their conscience about the Indian army’s brutalities against Kashmiris, dishonour of women and children in Kashmir,” he said and questioned how Prime Minister Imran Khan is able to sleep at night in such a situation.

In view of PTI government’s failures on economic, legal and foreign fronts, Ahsan demanded fresh elections to enable a new government with legitimate mandate to steer the country out of crises.