Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said the opposition parties’ real issue with the military was that unlike other institutions, they were unable to “control” the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) after the agency “found out” about their alleged corruption.
Addressing a ceremony organised by the Insaf Lawyers Forum (ILF) in Islamabad, he said PML-N supremo and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif “fought with every army chief” because he wanted to turn the military into Punjab police.
Nawaz in recent weeks has levelled serious allegations of political interference against the armed forces.
“They (opposition parties) control all the institutions whose job it is to keep checks and balances, except one. They know the ISI is aware of all their theft. They try to control it and that’s where the conflict starts,” he added.
Prime Minister Imran once again mocked Nawaz over his claim that ex-ISI chief Zaheerul Islam had asked him to resign as the prime minister, saying: “Why did he (Islam) say that? And why did you (Nawaz) silently hear that? Because Zaheerul Islam knew how much money you had stolen.”
Referring to what he termed Nawaz’s “attacks” on the Pakistan Army, he said “if anyone is going around with India’s agenda, it is the [opposition].”
He added that if the Pakistani military was weakened, the country would see similar turbulence as in other Muslim countries such as Libya, Syria and Yemen.
“We are safe today because of the sacrifices rendered by our armed forces,” the premier stressed.
Imran said the reason he did not have any “problems” with the army and the military supported every agenda of his government was because of his clean record.
He said if he too “started laundering money” out of the country, the ISI would find out about it before anyone else “because it is the world’s top agency”.
‘I am democracy’
Prime Minister Imran said Nawaz’s real cause was not democracy but protecting his financial interests.
“I am democracy,” he declared. “I was elected after bagging the most votes in Pakistan and won from five constituencies.”
Referring to the opposition’s allegation of the vote having been stolen in the 2018 elections, the premier said if there had been rigging, his party would not need a coalition to form a government.
He said the opposition was abusing all institutions to exert pressure to be given an NRO-like (National Reconciliation Ordinance) concession, adding that “the day they get an NRO would be the downfall of Pakistan.”
“You can do as many rallies as you want,” he told the opposition, who have planned a series of anti-government protests under the Pakistan Democratic Movement banner in the coming weeks. “The moment you break the law, you will go straight to jail — and not to a VIP jail, but where the poor are sent.”
The prime minister said all the “employed” opposition politicians had united on one platform because “they consider themselves above the law” and “unanswerable”.
Referring to Nawaz’s call to his supporters to take to the streets against the government, Imran said PML-N workers “will not come out” even if they are bribed with money and “keemay kay naan“.
The prime minister also scoffed at PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair comparing Nawaz’s life abroad to the time spent in exile by Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, saying while Khomeini was sent abroad on “gun-point”, Nawaz had gone abroad after his party’s repeated pleas regarding his health.
“The Iranian public used to love Ayatollah Khomeini; when he left the world he had a small house … he and his children didn’t have properties worth billions in London.”
He said the opposition had tried to “blackmail” the government over the passage of legislation concerning the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and now wanted to oust the government because the country was emerging out of crisis.
On the occasion, the prime minister promised health cards for all lawyers and said the government would facilitate them in obtaining houses through the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme.