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HomePakistanArmy stands with govt just as required under Constitution: Fawad Chaudhry

Army stands with govt just as required under Constitution: Fawad Chaudhry


Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday rejected the notion that the military establishment was now supporting the opposition, saying that the armed forces continued to stand with the government as required under the Constitution.

Chaudhry’s remarks were in reply to a reporter’s question about the “impression that opposition parties now had the “army or establishment’s support” in their bid to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan from the top office through a vote of no-confidence.
“In our constitutional scheme, the army has to stay with the government,” Chaudhry said at a press conference in Islamabad today. “The army has to follow the Constitution, and it will follow the Constitution.”
At the outset of his speech, the information minister said a meeting of the political committee was held earlier in the day where concerns were raised over a “campaign against the Pakistan Army”.
In this regard, he referred to a statement by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, president of an alliance of opposition parties, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
A clip was then played at the press briefing in which Rehman was shown speaking at a press conference alongside PML-N President Shehbaz Sharif and PPP Co-Chairperson Asif Ali Zardari. The press conference was held earlier this week, hours after opposition parties submitted a no-confidence motion with the National Assembly Secretariat against the prime minister.
In the clip, Rehman was shown to be saying: “We also think about reforms for our institutions. The jurisdictions of all institutions have been defined in the Constitution and we want to move towards that so that such complains or questions never arise in the country again.”
Commenting on Rehman’s statement today, Chaudhry linked the mooted “reforms” with the opposition’s attempts to have “political control over the army”.
The information minister alleged that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif had been trying in the past to control “the army just like Punjab police”, saying that these “reforms” would be a continuation of these efforts.
Chaudhry referred to the memogate scandal, which had surfaced after the publication of a secret memo asking Washington for help reining in the Pakistani military during the PPP’s tenure in 2011. He further mentioned Dawn leaks, which occurred during the PML-N’s tenure in 2016. 
Chaudhry said he was mentioning these incidents of the past to refresh people’s memories about the age-old ambitions of current opposition parties to malign the Pakistan Army.
‘Independent foreign policy’
Chaudhry addressed the opposition’s objection to PM Imran’s criticism of European Union (EU) countries for asking Pakistan to vote against Russia during the recently held special session of the United Nations General Assembly.
He wondered why the prime minister’s rebuke of EU countries had the opposition worried and then asked for clip to be played in which PML-N leader Hamza Shehbaz was seen criticising PM Imran on the issue.
Chaudhry said the opposition’s reaction equated to questioning “why does Pakistan have an independent foreign policy?”
He further remarked that the no-trust motion had been submitted because the foreign policy of “absolutely not” and criticising EU countries had perturbed the opposition.
“But should we protect their assets in Europe and London, or should we move forward with an independent foreign policy?” Chaudhry posed a rhetoric question.
He said Pakistan wanted good ties with all countries, but not at the cost of its self-respect.
‘Political drama’
Chaudhry dubbed the opposition’s move to seek a no-confidence against PM Imran a “political drama”, saying that “we want them to end before” March 23.
He said delegations from Muslim countries around the world would start arriving in Islamabad on March 21 to attend a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Council’s foreign ministers. These foreign ministers, he said, would also attend the parade on March 23, on the occasion of Pakistan Day, to which representative of European countries were also invited.
“So we want that that this political drama ends before that,” he said.
The minister said the government was confident about succeeding against the opposition on the no-trust motion and had the support of all its allies.
“We might also get some extra votes,” he added.
He further said the speaker had the authority to reject the votes of lawmakers who would go against their parties’ mandates.
To a question about when the session for voting on the no-confidence motion would be held, he said it was a matter for the NA speaker to decide.
In reply to another question, he said that apparently, under Article 63 (1) A, leader of the party has to decide whether a member had crossed the floor and then speaker gives a declaration on it.
Asked whether this also applied to the allies, he said, “no, the allies have their own parliamentary party”.
When asked about Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar, Chaudhry said he was the province’s chief executive because PM Imran and the PTI’s parliamentary party had confidence in him.
“But our focus for now is on the no-confidence motion. We will work on big decisions regarding Punjab, but not right now,” he added.
To a question about reports of a “foreign hand” being behind the no-confidence motion and whether it was rooted in India, he replied, “Tehreek-i-Labbaik was getting support from India and it was never denied.”
He further said the PTI had received assurances of support from all of its allies and that the party would remain in contact with the leaders of the estranged Jahangir Tareen group.
“We will give a united response,” he said.

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