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Imran Khan repeats refrain in congratulatory message to new army chief

PTI chief to meet political leaders, legal experts to discuss dissolution of assemblies
Updated 30 Nov, 2022 03:58pm
<p>Imran Khan. File photo.</p>

Imran Khan. File photo.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan while congratulating the new leadership of the Pakistan Army on assuming office has expressed hope that the lack of trust between the State and the nation would be removed.

“Congratulations to General Sahir Shamshad Mirza as new CJCSC & Gen Syed Asim Munir as new COAS,” he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday, a day after the new COAS was sworn in.

“We hope the new military leadership will work to end the prevailing trust deficit that has built up in the last eight months between the nation and the State. Strength of State is derived from its people.”

The tweet was accompanied by an image with a quote of Pakistan’s founding father, the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

“Do not forget that the armed forces are the servants of the people, and you do not make 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,” the quote reads.

Imran has repeatedly accused the army leadership of being involved in the persecution of the PTI leadership, while casting aspersions on the army’s claim of neutrality.

Ever since his ouster in a vote of no confidence in April, he has called for early elections while urging the army to play its role by supporting ‘truth’ and ousting his rivals who he has repeatedly accused of corruption. This has come while Imran himself is embroiled in multiple cases, including one regarding selling off gifts that he had received on official trips during his tenure as prime minister, and selling them off at profits. Another case pertains to his party receiving funding from proscribed sources.

Another issue was the appointment of the army chief, which took place a day earlier, with Imran claiming that the ‘corrupt cabal’ (referring to the PDM leadership of PM Shehbaz Sharif, PPP Co-chairman Asif Zardari and JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman) shouldn’t decide who will be the next army chief. The PDM in turn accused him of marching on Islamabad to get a ‘favorable’ chief appointed.

His latest move is that the PTI will quit all assemblies, including in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab where the party is in power. It was later clarified that the party hopes to dissolve these assemblies. The aim is to bring the situation to a point where the incumbent government has to announce early elections or order by-elections on all the seats from which PTI lawmakers and their allies stepped down. One other outcome could be general elections for the Punjab and KP Assembly, which would then start their terms from the date of the election. The general election for the National Assembly and the remaining provincial assemblies and units would, in that case, take place in October 2023 as planned.

What is next?

Saeed Baloch in Lahore reports that Imran will hold meetings with political leaders at his Lahore residence in Zaman Park. Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi is expected to be one of those visitors. He will hold consultations with legal experts on the dissolution of assemblies and the ramifications.

Meanwhile, PDM is trying to find its own strategy to deal with the situation which could include a no-confidence motion against CM Parvez Elahi. According to reports Asif Ali Zardari is being roped in for a possible ‘Mission Lahore’.

PML-N’s countermove

The Pakistan Muslim League-N submitted a petition in the Lahore High Court Wednesday to prevent the dissolution of the Punjab Assembly.

PML-N’s Attaullah Tarar, while talking to the media along side Uzma Bukhari, said that there was fear that the provincial assembly would be dissolved. “We have the right to have our position heard. It would be a deprivation of our rights if it wasn’t admitted.”

Tarar said that they are also in the process of a filing a petition against the suspension of the 18 MPAs of the PML-N, which is in the opposition in Punjab.

Last month, PA speaker Sardar Sabtain Khan suspended the membership of 18 MPAs of the PML-N for 15 sittings of the assembly for creating disturbance during the session. They are Abdul Rauf, Samiullah Khan, Malik Muhammad Waheed, Azma Bukhari, Saba Sadiq, Raheela Khadim Hussain, Rabiya Nusrat, Rabia Farooqui, Zaibun Nisa Awan, Zeeshan Rafiq, Kanwal Liaquat advocate, Gulnaz Shehzadi, Nafeesa Amin, Muhammad Afzal, Adil Bukhsh, Saadia Nadeem, Rahat Afza and Sunbal Malik Hussain.

Tarar said that there was a tradition of holding elections for national and provincial assemblies on the same day in response to Imran’s latest move. Imran Khan will be the loser if the Punjab Assembly is dissovled, he said. “If the Punjab government goes, then so will the security provided at Zaman Park,” he said while referring to Imran’s Lahore residence.

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