Pakistan’s mighty military on Sunday warned critics to avoid smearing the premier institution as it ‘strongly opposed’ ‘intensified and deliberate attempts’ to drag it into politics following the ousting of Imran Khan’s government last month.
The 69-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was ousted from power last month in a no-confidence motion, which he says was orchestrated by the United States with the help of local actors for his pursuit of a independent foreign policy. His supporters used social media to target the military for doing nothing to save his government.
In a statement, the military said efforts by some politicians, journalists and analysts to push the institution and its leadership into political affairs were “extremely damaging”.
“Recently, there have been intensified and deliberate attempts to embroil the Pakistan Armed Forces and their leadership in the ongoing political discourse in the country,” the statement said.
“These attempts are manifested in direct, insinuated or nuanced references to the armed forces as well as their senior leaders, made by some political leaders, a few journalists and analysts in public forums and various communication platforms, including social media. ” The army further stated that this practice of unsubstantiated, defamatory and provocative statements and remarks was extremely harmful.
“The Pakistan Armed Forces strongly opposes such illegal and unethical practices and expects all to abide by the law and keep the Armed Forces out of political discourse for the benefit of the country” , he added.
The military has ruled Pakistan for almost half of its history and played a behind-the-scenes role in sending home various elected governments.
But his spokesman told a news conference last month that the military had decided to stay away from politics, especially the ongoing political struggle between former Prime Minister Khan and his opponents. .
However, this did not prevent the governor of Punjab, Omar Sarfraz Cheema, who on Thursday requested the intervention of the army to get the province out of the crisis.
In a letter to the army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, Cheema asked him to play a decisive role in the present chaotic times, as he was of the opinion that the Punjab, in constitutional crisis, had been held hostage .
According to Dawn, an anti-army hashtag generated over 69,000 tweets and a similar hashtag over 410,000 tweets in the past few days. The Federal Investigation Agency has also launched a crackdown to arrest those who defame the military.
Lately, a video clip of Bol TV presenter Sami Ibrahim criticizing General Bajwa has gone viral, prompting the FIA to open an investigation against him.