ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a harshly worded statement on Monday reacted to some “defamatory” statements made by former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on the appointment of the new military chief.
Addressing a rally in Faisalabad in the Punjab province on Sunday night, Khan accused the government of trying to appoint a “favorite” as the next army chief, triggering a strong criticism among the country’s powerful army.
“They are afraid that if a strong army chief is appointed, a patriotic army chief is appointed who will ask them [about corruption], so it is because of this fear that they want to appoint their army chief,” Khan said at the rally organized by his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, as Aljazeera quoted.
The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Pakistani army’s media wing, said it was “aghast” at the remarks, calling them “defamatory and uncalled for”.
- Ousted PM Under Anti-Terror Law: What Led to this Moment?
- Khan Destroyed Pakistan Economy: Information Minister
According to the statement, the military leadership has carried out a “decades-long impeccable meritorious service to prove its patriotic and professional credentials beyond any doubt”.
“Politicising the senior leadership of Pakistan Army and scandalising the process of selection of the COAS (chief of army staff) is neither in the interest of the state of Pakistan nor of the institution,” the ISPR statement said, as quoted by Aljazeera.
Pakistan’s military establishment has ruled over the country for more than half of its 75-year history as an independent nation.
Last month,Pakistani authorities were investigating whether ousted prime minister Imran Khan violated anti-terror laws, having him banned from speaking live on television in moves likely to inflame tensions between Khan and the coalition government.
In a speech in Islamabad to protest the arrest and alleged torture of his Chief of Staff Shahbaz Gill, Khan is accused of “threatening” state officials and promising to mount a legal challenge after Gill was arrested on August 9.
Khan alleged police have tortured Gill while in custody, claiming they have gained widespread traction among the former prime minister’s supporters. But Islamabad police denied the allegations, telling CNN on Saturday that Gill has not been tortured.
Pakistan’s media regulatory authority in a statement on Sunday accused Khan of levelling “baseless allegations” and “spreading hate speech” against “state institutions and officers”, and placed a ban on live broadcasts of his speeches on national television,” as Aljazeera reported.
Ever since his government was toppled in April, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan carried out a huge public outreach effort, during which he delivered blistering remarks against his political opponents, state institutions, and local police.