A day before he was scheduled to start his intended ‘long march’, the Pakistani military launched a harsh attack against former prime leader Imran Khan. Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar, the chief military spokesman, accused Khan and his supporters of defaming the army leadership and sowing discord among the public and the political class.
Khan and the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) party intend to march in support of early elections in the nation. Thousands of shipping containers would reportedly be deployed to blockade important roadways and thoroughfares in Islamabad in an effort to quell Khan’s demonstration. Even the head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt. Gen. Nadeem Anjum, was called out by the Pakistan Army to inform the media on the tragic murder of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya.
Anjum, who has avoided the media and the spotlight since he was appointed the head of the ISI last year, said, ‘I’ve come to break the silence’. The military claimed that Khan had been disparaging the leadership at the briefing after it declined to assist him through ‘illegal and extra-constitutional measures’ when he faced the lower chamber of Parliament’s vote on his trust.
‘It must surprise you that I’m here today. I’m here because lies are being used to defame my organisation (the army) and organisation (the ISI). Given the prospect of division brought on by one-sided misinformation, I was unable to keep quiet any longer’, Anjum added.
Since he lost the vote of no-confidence, Imran Khan and other PTI leaders have criticised Pakistan’s military. Khan had urged the army to not act neutrally in the current situation. Anjum and Iftikhar both asserted that the military was apolitical and had made the decision to remain out of politics.