While many Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders are coming to party chief Imran Khan’s defence for his recent statements regarding the chief of army staff, President Arif Alvi has publicly distanced himself from the controversial remarks.
Speaking to journalists at the Governor’s House Peshawar on Monday, President Arif Alvi said that it would be better if Imran Khan clarified his statement himself, as he did not want to ‘create any further confusion’.
“The entire military is patriotic, including the army chief, whose loyalty is beyond doubt,” said Alvi, adding that the comments should be explained by the one who made them.
He also said that he was trying to reduce tensions between the government and the opposition, saying, “I am not working towards building a national government, rather I hope to bring everyone to the same table.” Saying that social media shouldn’t be given too much importance, he also cautioned that ‘whoever speaks, should speak carefully’.
On Sunday night during a political rally in Faisalabad, Imran Khan accused the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led coalition government of stalling the general elections in order to appoint an army chief of their choice.
“Zardari and Nawaz want to bring their favourite as the next an army chief because they have stolen public money,” he said, adding, “They are afraid that when a patriotic army chief comes, he will ask them about their loot.”
Since then, many PTI leaders have issued clarifications and explanations of what their chairman meant. PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said during a press conference that Khan was merely warning against letting ‘corrupt people’ make important appointments. “The Pakistan Army and PTI think alike and both want to protect the country,” he said, adding, “The army is a sacred institution and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) did politics over it in the past.
Following the press conference he also tweeted that had the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) listened to his explanation, they would not have had to give their own statement.
PTI leader Asad Umar also said that Imran Khan’s statement had been clarified already. He said there was never an intent to cause harm to the reputation of the institution or its senior leadership.
Former human rights minister Shireen Mazari said that Imran Khan gave a statement about the army chief’s appointment, as the coalition government was 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.