Controversial Banners, Imran’s Remark Echo In Senate

Controversial Banners, Imran’s Remark Echo In Senate

ISLAMABAD: The controversy over banners inviting military takeover recently put up by a little-known political party and remarks of Pakistan Tehreek-i- Insaf Chief Imran Khan about people distributing sweets in case of a military coup recently echoed in the Senate, with members asserting that no one was indispensable.

Hafiz Hamdullah of the Jamiat Ulema-i- Islam-Fazl raised the issue in the House, saying the politicians discussed placement of pro-army banners in talk shows, but had not taken up the matter in Parliament. He said the politicians kept on trading charges at a time when there was need for unity to safeguard democracy. He said the army chief must not be made controversial. Criticising the PTI Chairperson, he said it did not suit a politician whose party had secured 7.8 million votes in the previous general elections to make such irresponsible remarks. He said the statement should be condemned by the House.

Senate Chairperson Raza Rabbani, however, disallowed a discussion on the issue, saying that the statements made by any politician out of Parliament could not be discussed in the House, pointing out that there were rulings on the matter. Despite the Chairperson’s remarks, some other members also talked about these developments.

Senator Farhatullah Babar condemned the recent poster campaign urging a military takeover and creating an aura of indispensability around the Army Chief.

“No one, no matter how high a politician, or a bureaucrat or a general, is indispensable. Graveyards are full of indispensable people,” he said.

He noted that it was also wrong to attribute the success of the operation against militants to any individual. The entire nation, all political parties, every citizen, all defence forces and law-enforcement agencies and indeed all institutions deserve to be complimented for the will to fight the militants to the finish, he said.

He said that as an institution the army had a large number of competent officers and it would not be right to place any individual, however well-meaning and competent, above the institution itself. It was a disservice to any institution to assert that only one man at the top was the saviour of the nation, he said.

Senator Babar also deplored the statement of Mr Khan and said such remarks coming from a politician who claimed to believe in the democratic process were shocking and painful to say the least.

Mushahid Hussain Sayed of the PML-Q ruled out the possibility of a military intervention, saying: “I do not see any danger in Pakistan.” He said there was no need to be scared of posters, recalling that such banners had also been put up in the past for the then Army Chief, General Asif Nawaz Janjua.

He said Chief of Army Staff, General Raheel Sharif had delivered and had himself given an assurance that he would retire on Nov 29, 2016. In a light mood, the senator said that when an American journalist taunted him for frequent martial laws in Pakistan, his reply was that the only reason there had been no coup in the United States was that there was no US embassy in Washington.

About the aborted coup in Turkey, he said President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had made the people of his country stakeholders on the basis of good governance, economic revival and an independent foreign policy.

Karim Khawaja of the PPP claimed that an office-bearer of the little-known party behind the banners campaign in Karachi had been given Rs 4.5m to gather people. He said the person was a doctor and was known to him. He called for an inquiry to find out where the funding came from.

US Congressmen’s Remarks

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, speaking about recent anti-Pakistan remarks made by some US congressmen, said that as a separate and independent arm of the US government, views of a few congressmen might reflect a shade of opinion in the Congress but were not reflective of the country’s policy.

“Similarly, while testimonies by US officials in these hearings do reflect US policies, statements made by non-government witnesses only reflect their personal opinions and interests of the lobbies they represent,” he said.

He said the Congress was strongly supportive of democracy and over the past decade had contributed appreciably to US-Pakistan cooperation through a number of civilian and security assistance programmes.

“However, Pakistan’s foreign policy remains anchored on its own national interests. In this process, we will continue to articulate our national perspective to all foreign partners, including the United States and its respective arms of government, in order to further strengthen our mutual relations to achieve the shared objectives.”

Mr Aziz said that while Pakistan respected difference of opinion, use of inappropriate language at respectable forums like the US Congress only lowered the dignity of the august chamber and that of the speakers. “Such crude outbursts also disappoint people with democratic aspirations around the world,” he remarked.


Previously published in DAWN and republished here with permission.