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Save My Army, for God’s Sake…

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Islamabad (Imran Y. CHOUDHRY) :- Former Press Secretary to the President, Former Press Minister to the Embassy of Pakistan to France, Former MD, SRBC Mr. Qamar Bashir analysis :
“For God’s sake, save my army. For God’s sake, don’t destroy the institution of the army. These institutions are ours; they belong to our nation. The army’s businesses are ours, as they are built with public money on our public land, and we own them and do not deny them. The army belongs to me, to my people. The army has rendered innumerable sacrifices to save and protect our country from external and internal security threats. Therefore, more than any other person, the army itself should protect and safeguard the reputation of this important and vital institution. This requires the army and its spokesperson to indulge only in professional discipline and to refrain from getting involved where they neither had the training nor the skillset.

“Dr. Arif Alvi, the former President and close associate and companion of Imran Khan, struck a conciliatory tone after his meeting with the founder of PTI in jail on 9th May. This was perhaps his first and very important press conference after retiring as the President, where he articulately communicated PTI’s narrative in response to derogatory and inflammatory statements made by the Army leadership and the leaders of the coalition governments in the center and provinces against PTI, terming it a gang of disruptive and anarchist elements.”

The former supreme commander of Pakistan’s armed forces delivered this sound advice to the army leadership. He imparted his wisdom like an elder, showcasing his deep love, respect, and attachment to the army as an institution. As someone who spent over ten months as his media advisor, I can attest to his unwavering passion and affection for the army.

“He was visibly troubled and saddened by the severe backlash following the DG-ISPR’s press conference, especially on social media, which prompted him to advise the army spokesperson that, lacking the skill set, he should refrain from giving sermons on political, business and commerce, law and legal matters, election results, traditional and new media, and quoting selected and isolated facts and figures to suit a narrative while rejecting those that don’t. He added that the DG-ISPR has opened up a whole set of Pandora’s box and ensnared the army in unnecessary controversy, pitting the army against the PTI, which is the most popular party in the country, especially among the young population. Although they believe in democracy, they can be led astray if their party and leader are portrayed in a negative light.”

He rightly argued that just as the army took strict action and imposed exemplary punishment on army personnel who violated discipline and conduct during the May 9th incident, and rightly did not extend the same punishment to the rank and file of the army, the same principle should have been applied to alleged civilian elements found involved in the incident based on incontrovertible evidence.

However, instead, the punishment was unfairly extended to the entire leadership and the party itself. The party was dismantled, its leaders were coerced into leaving, and pressured to join a newly created party. Election symbols were denied, leaving voters confused during the voting on February 8th. Despite winning the majority of seats in the center and Punjab, the party’s mandate was stolen, artificially reducing it to a minority party. This was an insult to all patriotic Pakistanis who had cast their votes in favor of the party. He stated that the DG-ISPR was denying a glaring truth, substantiated by numerous videos and documentary evidence showing the army interfering in polling stations and pressuring election staff to change results.

During his address, he also articulated the solution to the political impasse by suggesting that the only way forward for all stakeholders is dialogue. He said the army leadership should respect and trust the 80% of the people of Pakistan who voted in favor of PTI and also give due regard to those who have been elected, including the founder of PTI who, despite being incarcerated, remains the most popular leader in the country and the world with over a 70% approval rating.

He advised the army, being in a position of strength, to magnanimity and a large heart and should have offered to bury the hatchet. On the contrary Imran Khan who has been humiliated, insulted and put behind bars does not harbor any ill feeling against anyone and has shown great patience, forbearance and magnanimous attitude by offering an olive branch to seek solution of the current impasse through dialogues.

However, he refused to enter into any negotiation with the incumbent government which according to him was illegitimate, formed on false pretexts, lies, and deceit, consisting of stooges who lack the mandate or power to make consequential decisions. Therefore, it is imperative that the people’s mandate, reflected in Form 45, is fully restored. This will provide a strong foundation based on truth and solid support for improving the economy, financial stability, and prosperity for the people of Pakistan.” He also dared the media to stand with truth and justice.

Interestingly, when all this turmoil unfolded, the timing seemed ill-timed. The government was settling down, inflation was under control to a large extent, the IMF was giving positive signals, the stock exchange was performing extremely well, and promises for investment were pouring in. On the political front, the ice between the top political parties had started melting. However, the press conference by the DG-ISPR reset the entire political scenario, leading the country into another period of turmoil, agitation, confrontation, and political tension.

However, not everything is lost. The silver lining of this latest episode around the 9th May has brought the former president, Dr. Arif Alvi, who remained silent since his retirement, returned into active politics. The PTI desperately needed a mature, seasoned, experienced, and passionate leader to curb internal strife within the party, and with more than five years of unique and privileged experience as the president aptly represent the Party and articulate the party’s narrative on sensitive matters with responsibility, delicacy, and professionalism.

With his presence at the helm of PTI’s affairs and his experience as the president and the supreme commander of the armed forces, he will hopefully be able to bring the warring parties to the negotiation table and provide much-needed relief to the 250 million people of Pakistan

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