Speaking in a TV show hosted by journalist Gharidah Farooqi, the lawmaker said Imran Khan is the prime minister, it was up to him if he wanted to join the meeting or not. "Or maybe he was not invited by the army chief," Rasheed went on to add while responding to a question by Farooqi on the absence of the PM from the meeting.
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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.
According to ARY News, the top brass of the army ‘made it clear that it has no role in the country’s political matters, election reforms, and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB)’ as often alleged by the opposition leaders.
Meeting between Bajwa and Opp leaders
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.
According to Senator Sherry Rehman, the meeting which was held on the request of the army chief was convened to discuss the ‘sensitive’ issues pertaining to Gilgit-Baltistan in the wake of ‘increasing Indian aggression’.
The political issues did not come up during the meeting, said the PPP leader, adding the party agenda remained limited to the issues pertaining to the GB region. The army chief said the political parties needed to strengthen the parliamentary democracy, she admitted, refusing to give further details.
On Wednesday, the PPP chairman, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, addressed a press conference to allay the reservations in the wake of news reports on a recent meeting between the politicians from the opposition parties and the army chief last week.
Bilawal urged the political parties to carry out reforms so transparent polls could be held in Pakistan, saying the army chief also doesn’t want the future elections to become ‘controversial’.
In response to a question, the PPP chairman ruled out any discussion between the army leadership and the country’s political leadership on any amendments or laws.
“The reason for the army chief to engage with the political leadership of the country was to discuss the overall situation, the overall environment of that region [Gilgit-Baltistan],” said Bilawal. “Would have been better if Prime Minister Imran Khan would have been there.
The PPP chief also chided ‘some irresponsible people’ who were part of the meeting, for discussing sensitive matters pertaining to national security issues and foreign policy issues on national television.