For the sake of democracy, army tolerating opposition’s tirade: PM

Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an 11-party opposition alliance, was pressuring the security establishment into toppling his government.

“Opposition does not want to hold talks and is pressuring the army through its anti-government movement to send a democratic government packing,” the premier told a private news channel on Friday night.

The prime minister went on to say that opposition’s demand of removing his democratically elected government is high treason and came under Article 6.

Responding to a question, he also heaped praise on army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa for showing restraint over the hard-hitting speeches of PML-N supemo Nawaz Sharif against the top military leadership.

“There is a lot of resentment within the ranks of army regarding statements of Nawaz Sharif,” he added.

Ousted PM Nawaz, who has been in London since he was given a one-time permission by the government last year to go abroad for four weeks for the treatment of his undiagnosed illness, broke his long term silence earlier this year accusing military establishment and other state institutions of helping the PTI-led government to come into power.

PM Imran, in today’s interview, said if someone else was leading the army instead of General Qamar then he would not have tolerated such controversial remarks and responded in a completely different way.

“Gen Qamar is a sensible man. He is calm and composed and that is why he is not reacting on this,” he added.

PM Imran while daring the opposition parties to submit their resignations immediately predicted that majority of their members of National and provincial assemblies would not tender resignations at all.

“I invite them to resign today instead of tomorrow… I am predicting that majority of them [members of assemblies] will not resign [at all].

“And if they resign, it will be better for Pakistan,” he added.

Imran Khan said the PDM could do whatever it wanted, as the government was ready to deal with all situations.

“Whatever they do, they will make their own loss like they did at the Minar-e-Pakistan [last week],” he remarked.

The prime minister described the PDM’s December 13 public meeting a “flop show” and said the people of Lahore did not come out and most of the participants comprised students of religious seminaries.

The sixth PDM power show – held in what is regarded as the bastion of the PMLN – was earlier dubbed as a referendum against the federal government, which, the PDM claims, came into power in the wake of a rigged polls in July 2018 But contrary to the expectations, Lahore rally – also hosted by the PML-N – was not as impressive.

The presence of the workers of other parties especially the JUI-F and PML-N workers from other parts of Punjab, however, did provide a face-saving. Even leaders of other parties acknowledged the PML-N local supporters’ lack of participation.

(This story has been published from The Express Tribune feed, without modifications to the text)