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Was Opposition Leaders’ Meeting With Army Chief A Routine Affair?

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A day after the opposition’s all-parties conference where they announced the formation of Pakistan Democratic Alliance against the government and called for an end to the interference of the military establishment in politics, reports about a ‘secret’ meeting of parliamentary leaders with the military leadership emerged.

It was revealed that the opposition lawmakers met Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director-General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed.

The reports raised many questions, considering that opposition parties had taken a strong position against the military’s role in politics just a day earlier.

This could be a ‘routine’ meeting, as lawmakers often meet the military top brass to discuss the issues that pertain to the national security, but the secrecy that shrouded it till the word came out has given rise to speculations. Naya Daur placed these questions before political and legal experts.

Muhammad Ziauddin, a senior journalist, questioned the purpose of the meeting called by the army chief. He said: “The military has no right to summon a meeting as per the constitution, as it is the prerogative of Prime Minister Imran Khan to discuss such issues.”

However, he also questioned the sincerity of the opposition’s efforts for a strong democratic system. He said the opposition could have refused to go to the meeting, but their willingness showed they would have no qualms if such a meeting for whatever purpose is called again. 

He said the details of the meeting were leaked to media after the APC as a pre-planned strategy to ‘brand’ military. That was the reason, former prime minister Nawaz Sharif adopted a hard posture in his recent speech, saying that “there is no need to oust Prime Minister Imran Khan but his backers”.

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However, PML-N leader Ahsan Iqbal sees nothing wrong with the ‘routine meeting’ with the army leadership. He said that he would be able to respond to the questions after consulting with the party leadership.

Supreme Court lawyer Ashraf Gujjar also termed it a ‘routine affairs’. “As per the constitution, there is no harm in meeting the army chief,” he said, adding that it’s a routine affair that heads of institutions hold meetings with political leaders to discuss affairs of mutual interest.

Naya Daur contacted many other political leaders, including Chaudhry Fawad Hussain of PTI, Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and Nayyar Bukhari of PPP, but they did not respond to multiple messages and phone calls.

Security analyst Rana Javed commented on the recent APC and termed the speech of Nawaz Sharif another attempt at reaching a settlement with the military establishment.

 

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Naya Daur