RAWALPINDI: The Pakistan Army has expressed its anger and dismay at a defamatory and uncalled for statement by PTI Chairman Imran Khan against its senior leadership at a public rally in Faisalabad.
“Pakistan Army is aghast at the defamatory and uncalled for statement about the senior leadership of Pakistan Army by the PTI chairman during a political rally at Faisalabad,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in its strong reaction over the objectionable content of Imran Khan’s speech.
The military’s media wing said that regrettably, an attempt had been made to discredit and undermine senior leadership of the Pakistan Army at a time when the institution was laying lives for the security and safety of the people of Pakistan every day.
“Senior politicians trying to stir controversies on appointment of Chief of Army Staff (COAS) of Pakistan Army, the procedure for which is well defined in the constitution, is most unfortunate and disappointing,” the ISPR said.
It said the senior leadership of Army had decades of impeccable meritorious service to prove its patriotic and professional credentials beyond any doubt.
Also, DG ISPR said that Imran Khan’s statement was derogatory and uncalled for, which was neither in the interest of the country nor the Pakistan Army.
“Politicising the senior leadership of Pakistan Army and scandalising the process of selection of COAS is neither in the interest of the state of Pakistan nor of the institution,” the DG said, adding that Pakistan Army reiterates its commitment to uphold the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
Imran Khan alleged in his speech that the incumbent government was delaying fresh general election to appoint new COAS of their liking.
Separately, Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice (CJ) Athar Minallah Monday remarked that how Imran Khan could say in public whether an army chief was patriot or not. He asked counsel for Imran Khan whether the PTI chairman wanted to hurt the morale of the armed forces by delivering anti-military speeches.
Justice Athar Minallah’s remarks came during a hearing against the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority’s (Pemra) order, prohibiting television channels from airing Khan’s speeches live. At the last hearing, the IHC CJ had suspended the order till Sept 5, and observed that the regulatory authority “does not have the authority” to issue such orders.
Barrister Ali Zafar represented Khan during Monday’s hearing and a representative of Pemra was also present to apprise the court of the regulator’s stance. After hearing the arguments of both sides, the court wrapped up the case.
The Pemra ban came into place on August 21 after the PTI chairman threatened state institutions and government officials with serious consequences.
Pemra’s notification said that Khan’s addresses are in open violation of the regulator’s rules and Article 19 of the Constitution of Pakistan. According to the regulator, the ban had been put in place under Section 27 of the Pemra Ordinance 2002. The Pemra notification cited Khan’s speech at the F9 Park, Islamabad as the reason behind the ban.
Apart from the ban, Khan is also facing contempt of court proceedings for threatening Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry during the same speech.
At Monday’s hearing, Pemra’s lawyer apprised the IHC that the regulator issued a show-cause notice to delay the airing of his live speeches. In response, the IHC CJ asked why the regulator did not ensure that the rule of delaying live speeches was followed. “Several responsible people issue irresponsible statements. You (Pemra) have to follow the law and the court will not interfere in it,” the IHC chief justice said.
Moving on to Khan’s lawyer, the IHC CJ asked whether he heard the PTI chairman’s speech in Faisalabad a day earlier — where he said that the government is delaying elections to appoint an army chief of its choice.
“Did you hear Imran Khan’s speech yesterday? Do political leaders deliver such speeches? Will everything be put at stake just for the sake of a ‘Game of Thrones’?” the IHC CJ asked, making a reference to the popular television drama in which nine noble families wage war against each other to gain control over a mythical land.
IHC CJ Minallah said that the armed forces lay their lives for the nation and in a case, where someone is involved in illegal activity, everyone should not be criticised over it. “Hold yourself accountable for your actions. You (Khan) want to issue statements as per your wishes and don’t want the regulator to do its job?
“Do you want to hurt the morale of the army by giving anti-army statements? Do you think that anyone in the army is not a patriot?” the IHC CJ questioned. He told Khan’s lawyer that when a statement is issued in public, it has its own impact. “Don’t expect relief from the court. This is privilege of the court,” the CJ told counsel for Imran Khan. Following this, the IHC, in light of the rulings of the Supreme Court, asked Pemra to regulate the speeches of Khan and wrapped up the case, filed by the PTI chairman.
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