ISLAMABAD: While President Arif Alvi has all but distanced himself from his party chief’s statement about the army chief’s appointment, saying that the latter should himself clarify it, senior Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders on Monday said the ex-premier meant to say corrupt leaders should not have the right to nominate the chief of army staff.

PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry told a news conference that Imran Khan had just asked whether corrupt people should have the option to make important appointments. The Pakistan Army and PTI think alike and both want to protect the country, he said, adding that all the generals were loyal to Pakistan and their loyalty was beyond any doubt.

“Army is a sacred institution and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) did politics over it in the past. A conspiracy was hatched to bring the current govt into power despite having minority in the parliament,” he said.

“In the past, during public meetings of Maryam Nawaz, slogans were chanted against the army. I want to ask that how people, who are corrupt and security risk, can do appointments. How a person who has fled Pakistan [Nawaz Sharif] will give permission for the appointment of next army chief?” he said.

After military’s media wing issued a statement, Mr Fawad also tweeted that the ISPR had no need to issue statement as he had already clarified the stance of PTI during his press conference.

Also, PTI Central Secretary General Asad Umar said Mr Khan’s statement pertaining to the army chief’s appointment had already been clarified. He said there was never an intent to cause harm to the reputation of the institution or its senior leadership.

The PTI and its chief always fully appreciated professionalism and sacrifices of the army personnel, he said, explaining that Mr Khan’s emphasis on upholding the principle of merit was consistent with the desire to protect the professionalism of the force.

Ex-minister Shireen Mazari, in a statement, said Mr Khan gave a statement about the army chief’s appointment, as ruling parties PPP and PML-N were doing politics over it. “There is a long history of opposing armed forces by both parties. On the other hand Imran Khan’s statement is being misquoting despite clarification,” she said.

President Alvi, however, during an informal chat with journalists at Governor House, Peshawar, distanced himself from Mr Khan’s statement explaining that the former premier should himself clarify his remarks.

Regarding armed forces, he said: “All the army is patriotic.”

He also disclosed he was playing his role to reduce tensions between the opposition and the government, a day after Mr Fawad denied any backdoor talks between his party and the PML-N.

However, the president did not elaborate further on the role to reduce the tension.

Manzoor Ali in Peshawar also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2022

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