BY: Fakhar ur Rehman
An interesting explanation has come out from the Spokesman of the Pakistan Army on the role of the Army Chief following deadlock between the government and the Opposition after the submission of the vote of no confidence motion in the National Assembly by the opposition political parties on 8th March 2022.
The then Prime Minister, Imran Khan, in his mammoth public meeting in Islamabad on 27th March that had revealed a diplomatic cable which envisaged US warnings and threats should an impending vote of no confidence motion by the Opposition failed. It was taken as a direct “ intervention“ in the country’s internal affairs and a demarche was issued to the US government. In his public gathering in the shadow of Quaid-i-Azam’s mausoleum, former Prime Minister raised an even more pertinent question: Who was being asked by the US to change regime of Imran Khan? A million dollar question which is perhaps hidden in the secret letter for which extra ordinary steps are being taken to cover up. PTI’s and peoples demand to the Supreme Court of Pakistan for setting up a judicial commission on Letter-gate is yet to see the light of the day, fearing the answer to this million dollar question might come forth and shock the nation.
The said diplomatic Cable was received on March 07 and Vote of No Confidence motion was submitted in the National Assembly on March 8. It coincided with over a week-long March led by the Pakistan People’s Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto which reached Islamabad to dislodge the PMIK government. The Long March had started on Feb 27 from Karachi and culminated in Islamabad on 9th March. Bilawal Bhutto, in almost all his public speeches, had been asking PMIK to either resign or face the vote of no confidence.
Pakistan Army’s spokesman, Major General Babar Iftikhar, in his Presser on 14th of April made a statement in reply to a query related to some options saying “the options were not put forward by the establishment, the Prime Minister House had approached the Chief of Army Staff to play some role to settle the deadlock. It is very unfortunate that our political leadership was not ready to talk to each other . So, the Army Chief and DG ISI went to PM office where three scenarios were discussed with government team on how to move forward. Those scenarios included moving forward with the vote of no confidence, PM resigning and third was that the opposition withdraws the vote of no confidence motion, PM dissolves the assemblies and calls for fresh elections. The then PM Imran Khan said the third option was acceptable and the Army Chief and DG ISI could go and talk to the opposition. Army Chief took the choice to the opposition PDM who after a lengthy debate said we will go ahead as per our plan (with VNC ). No option by the establishment was given“.
A cabinet and National Security Committee member of the then government of PMIK came out with astonishing stance and denied the explanation given by the Army spokesman.
“ Let me be clear — I am stating on record PM did not call military for help on “breaking political deadlock”. The military sought the meeting thru then Defence Minister Khattak & they put forward the 3 proposals of either PM resigning or taking part in VNC or fresh elections! “ Dr Shireen Mazari said on her Twitter Account.
Reportedly, the said meeting between the then Prime Minister Imran Khan K and the military leadership took place on 30th March.
A contradiction has arisen on who approached whom? What the then PMIK did after the ruling of the Deputy Speaker on 3rd April corresponds to the third option . After the dismissal of the vote of no confidence resolution of the opposition, the then government had dissolved the National Assembly and announced to go for fresh elections. The Supreme Court had declared the decision and ruling to be contrary to the constitution on 7th April.
Out of three scenarios discussed in the meeting between the then government and the Army Chief, two options were corresponding with what was mentioned in the diplomatic Cable and the Opposition was too adamant to stick to these two options- resignation or face VNC-. Now the latest controversy has a potential to lead to very serious implications.
Did the Army Chief take the initiative on behalf of the Opposition or himself or as the Army spokesman stated that the Army Chief was approached by the then PM office?
Following this meeting, the Supreme Court intervention had taken place. It set aside the 3rd April ruling of the then Deputy Speaker and the dissolution decision on 7th April with a binding order that any action of the President and the then Prime Minister Imran Khan shall be subject to the court’s permission. It implied A-190 of the Constitution was invoked.
On 9th April, a midnight urgency was witnessed. Chief Justice of the Supreme Umar Ata Bandial had also reached his chamber. The question however is, we now know the US wanted to see Imran Khan out of power. Imran Khan had decided to call for fresh elections. Then who wanted to reward the opposition by bringing them into power at any cost – wether it was through wheeling and dealing, a judicial coup, defections or blackmail?
After categorical statement by the Army spokesman that the current Army Chief will “retire in Nov”, the chapter of another extension stands closed. Does it have any link to the conduct of fresh elections or appointment of new Army Chief? The nation is still in a state of shock to see that those who are facing billions of rupees corruption and money laundering cases have come in to power, especially Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif who was to be indicted the day he was elected as Prime Minister. The country seems to be heading towards a constitutional break down.
Fakhar ur Rehman is a Senior Journalist who has worked with Pakistani and International Media. Turkish NTV, CNN Turkish, NBC News USA, Aaj TV, Dunya TV and Samaa TV coveting Defence, Diplomatic, Political, Judicial issue’s, war against terrorism.