Home Latest News PTI Still Wants Army to Play a Role for Early Elections

PTI Still Wants Army to Play a Role for Early Elections

In statement after appointment of new Army chief, party contradicts itself in demanding ‘neutrality’ of armed forces while also hinting at ‘role’ for early polls

by Jahanzeb Aslam

File photo. Aamir Qureshi—AFP

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Thursday issued a statement in which it called on the armed forces to stay out of politics—while also stressing that “institutions” must play their role in ensuring the conduct of early general elections.

The inherently contradictory statement followed the party avoiding public commentary on the appointment of the new Army chief and Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC), even as President Arif Alvi rushed to Lahore from Islamabad, ostensibly to “consult” with party Chairman Imran Khan on signing off on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s selection. After a brief meeting, the president returned to Islamabad, where he promptly approved the summary forwarded by the prime minister, designating Gen. Asim Munir the next Chief of Army Staff (COAS) and Gen. Sahir Shamshad Mirza the next CJCSC.

Congratulating the two generals on their new postings, the PTI central media statement hoped the military establishment would take measures in the best interest of the nation’s security and stability of state institutions. Summarizing the events of the past eight months—since Imran Khan was ousted from office through a vote of no-confidence—it accused the incumbent government of fostering political instability and damaging the economy.

“We hope that the new leadership of the armed forces of Pakistan will play its constitutional role so constitutional rights and democracy in the country are strengthened; and people’s rights to elect a new leadership through fresh elections would be recognized,” it said. “The people of Pakistan expect that their armed forces, while dealing with an array of external threats, would stay out of politics of domestic affairs and that the rights of political parties would not be infringed,” it added, curiously seeking “neutrality” from the armed forces right after calling for it “recognize” the need for fresh elections.

Under Pakistan’s Constitution, the Army has no role in determining elections or even pushing for them; that is the sole prerogative of the elected Parliament, which the PTI has consistently said it does not wish to negotiate with.

“Free, fair and transparent early elections are the only solution to the prevailing crisis in the country and we believe that all individuals as well as institutions, who feel the pain of the nation, must play their role in ensuring this democratic future,” the PTI added, once again hinting at a role for “institutions” in conducting early general elections.

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