Hours after former prime minister Imran Khan addressed the nation, Pakistan Army on Friday said that allegations levelled by the PTI chairman against the institution and particularly a senior army officer are absolutely unacceptable and uncalled for, terming them “baseless and irresponsible”.
“Pakistan army prides itself for being an extremely professional and well-disciplined organisation with a robust and highly effective internal accountability system applicable across the board for unlawful acts, if any, committed by uniformed personnel,” read a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Read more: Continue protests until three accused involved in attack resign, Imran tells supporters
However, it added, if the honour, safety and prestige of its rank and file is being tarnished by vested interests through frivolous allegations, the “institution will jealousy safeguard its officers and soldiers no matter what”.
“The baseless allegations hurled at the institution/officials today are highly regrettable and strongly condemned. No one will be allowed to defame the institution or its soldiers with impunity.”
Keeping this in view, the military said, the government of Pakistan has been requested to investigate the matter and initiate legal action against those responsible for defamation and false accusations against the institution and its officials without any evidence whatsoever.
Earlier, the PTI chief addressed the nation for the first time after he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt during the party’s long march in Punjab’s Wazirabad yesterday.
During his address, Imran Khan had asked his party workers and supporters to continue protesting against the assassination attempt on him until three “accused” — prime minister, interior minister and an army officer — resign from their post.
Imran said to ensure an impartial and fair probe it was necessary for the three top officials to step down as “all agencies are under their control”.
He also asked the army chief to make the senior military official resign who he accused of being involved in the assassination attempt.
“This general is taking country towards destruction,” said Imran while alleging that the same military official was behind the torture on PTI leaders Shahbaz Gill and Azam Swati.
Imran maintained that it was incumbent upon the army chief to take action against the “black sheep to save country from disintegration”.
He said that the country’s biggest political party was being pushed against the wall and attempts were being made to kill him.
“We have not learned anything from the past like the East Pakistan incident. I knew that they will try to kill me when I was leaving for long march,” he said.
Imran Khan said the conspirators decided to kill him as they were wary of his long march and added that he had received reports about his assignation plot from the government officials beforehand.
“Establishment was taken aback when they saw that the people this time [in April] did not support their decision to topple my government,” he said.
Imran said establishment is not aware of the ground realities. “Despite knowing that the people are not ready to accept this imported government, they [establishment] are bent on enforcing their decision.”
The PTI chief said his workers and supporters were tortured and intimidated during the party’s last long march because establishment had anticipated that the party will “vanish” though such tactics.
“Four people made a decision behind closed doors to kill me and I had told the nation beforehand. That’s why I had recorded a video naming all four [conspirators].”
Imran said three people — Shehbaz Sharif, Rana Sanaullah and a military official — were behind his assassination plot.
“Would you allow this military official to be probed in this case,” Imran asked army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He also asked the army chief to take action against the senior army officer to protect the dignity of the institution.
“Three people made a plan, (they are not the ones whom I named before), they made a plan when they realised that crowd in long march was getting large.
“They wanted to blame my murder on religious fanatics.”
Criticising individual not akin to criticising institution, says Umar
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Umar rejected on Saturday “any attempt to equate criticism of individuals with criticism of the institution.
The former minister’s remarks came in response to the military’s media wing issuing a statement following deposed prime minister Imran Khan’s address after surviving an assassination bid.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) maintained in its statement that the “allegations” levelled by the PTI chief against the institution and particularly a senior army officer were absolutely unacceptable and uncalled for, terming them “baseless and irresponsible”.
In a series of tweets, Umar stated that “the ISPR’s statement of yesterday has made unfounded allegations against Imran Khan. He has never spoken against the institution”.
He maintained that Imran had always spoken about the need to strengthen the institution.
“Criticism of individuals should NOT be called criticism of institution,” he said.
He asked the ISPR that “if no member of the institution does anything wrong, why are court martials carried out”, adding that “even general officers have been court martialed in the past”.
“If they do carry out acts which can be subject to court martial, why cannot they be criticized as individuals?” he questioned.
He stated that the institution deserved “love and respect based on the sacrifices made by its members to protect the nation”. However, he highlighted that not every individual was “necessarily worthy of that love and respect”.
The PTI leader furthered that if the ISPR wanted to hear “what disrespect for martyrs and the institution sound like, all they have to do is listen to the NA [National Assembly] speech of the “current defense minister where he claims the institution has ripped off the flesh of the nation from its bones”.
Call to protest
Earlier, in a separate tweet Umar called on PTI supporters to gather for protest in all cities across Pakistan at 5 pm on Sunday, adding that the protest site for each city would be announced by the local party heads.
“Let’s show them that no one can suppress a truly free nation,” he said.
He further said that he himself would partake in the protest at Liberty Chowk in Lahore.