Though the ISPR has requested all the political parties not to drag the Army into political discourse, the surge in PTI narrative and taunts against the establishment continue unabated.
Amid PTI and the government parties at loggerheads, the institution has clarified three times in a week that they have nothing to do with the success of no-confidence move and government formation, nor they will force an election date on the ruling coalition government as demanded by the PTI. The ISPR further clarified that politicians have to decide on political issues themselves instead of looking towards the institutions.
However, Islamabad is in the grip of rumours that the PTI has been engaged in dialogue. Yet the PTI has resorted to the same technique of blaming and defending the establishment in one breath. To prove this point, three important events took place in a single day.
Imran Khan interacted with a group of journalists. He said that apart from Shehbaz Sharif there are more internal characters being part and parcel of the US conspiracy. He said he told “neutrals” that if the conspiracy succeeded, the economy would go crashing. He also claimed that [the] “establishment is trying to contact me, but I have blocked their nos”.
Shireen Mazari, who is part of the top leadership of the PTI, held a press conference and claimed that one of the PTI dissidents (an MNA) was kept in a rest house (safe house) of “Neutrals”. She also said that “Neutrals were not Neutral”. She said: ''They are party to the international conspiracy of a regime change in Pakistan”. She accused them of supporting the opposition parties in ousting the PTI government.
In the meanwhile, Imran Khan has continued his narratives in public meetings. Imran Khan in his Mardan jalsa said: “I told those who could stop the conspiracy to stop it but they didn’t”.
The PTI uses the word “Neutral” as a taunt to mention establishment. All these attacks were launched by the PTI in a single day.
“It is highly inappropriate for political leaders to seek military intervention and try to drag the Army into their politics. I urge all the politicians again to not drag us into politics. We have nothing to do with the political crisis or any political situation in the country,” said Maj-Gen Babar Iftikhar. “We have been witnessing this maligning campaign patiently for some time. We have our country’s serious security challenges to deal with,” he added.
Intriguingly, a couple of days ago, the PTI called off some of its daily protests in different cities. The PTI chairman said he cancelled further jalsas saying now we will meet in Islamabad.
On the other hand, the Shehbaz Sharif government is confused as to how to react to the PTI's maligning campaign. Many have raised questions that the government is soft on Imran Khan. “If he were from a smaller province i.e. Balochistan or KP, he would have been booked by authorities for seditious remarks,” said a leader of PTM. He said the government has ignored PTI's other leaders like Shireen Mazari to lead this campaign.
It may also be recalled that PEMRA had banned PMLN supremo Nawaz Sharif from appearing in the media after his Gujranwala speech. Maryam Nawaz, Vice President of PMLN, was also frequently muted on electronic media, but no such restriction has been applied to Imran Khan's speeches.
Nevertheless, the PTI is awaiting some intervention which is not forthcoming adding to its frustration. Probably, Imran Khan believes he can force the establishment through his campaign to bail him out of the present crisis, remove Shehbaz Sharif government and secure him another term. Would that happens is another ball game.
Jan Achakzai is a geopolitical analyst, a politician from Balochistan and an ex-adviser to the Balochistan Government on media and strategic communication. He tweets @Jan_Achakzai