Pakistan’s powerful military has warned politicians against making “irresponsible” statements against it, saying such remarks were “detrimental” to the country’s stability.
The terse statement by the military came after former Punjab minister and a senior Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Rana Mashhood claimed that the party has struck a “deal” with the “establishment” under which it will form the Punjab provincial government within a few months in the politically crucial state. Reacting to Mashhood’s statement, the military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor described it as “baseless and regrettable”.
The Director General of Inter Services Public Relations, took to Twitter on Tuesday night, saying “Attribution of an obvious vested statement by Rana Mashhood is baseless and regrettable. Such irresponsible expressions are detrimental to stability in the country.” The establishment is usually a terminology used for the military institution. The powerful military has ruled coup-prone Pakistan for nearly half of the country’s history since independence in 1947.
Mashhood stirred a controversy by claiming that PML-N chief and party supremo Nawaz Sharif’s younger brother Shehbaz Sharif struck an understanding with the establishment to ameliorate the situation for the beleaguered party, the Express Tribune reported.
“The party that won the election was being considered as a horse turned out to be a mule,” he said in an interview to a private TV channel.
“It is now strongly felt that Shehbaz Sharif would have been a better choice. If he had been prime minister, he would have handled things much better,” he said.
Mashhood said that Shehbaz had always been acceptable to the establishment because he talked about harmony between state institutions.
When asked about Nawaz and former premier Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s statements pertaining to tensions between the civilian government and the military, Mashhood said: “Things have greatly improved as they [the establishment] have realised that they are banking on wrong people.” Under fire, Mashhood in a tweet said his statement was “quoted out of context”. The PML-N has not only distanced itself from the contents of Mashhood’s interview but also strongly rejected any talk of a deal.
The Punjab province is now governed by Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tereek-e-Insaf (PTI), which ended a the rule of the PML-N. The PTI, which came second in terms of seats, managed to form the government with the help of smaller parties and independents.
Deposed premier Sharif said on Wednesday that PML-N president Shehbaz Sharif has taken notice of Mashhood’s claim of a “deal” between the party and the establishment.
Sharif said he did not want to make any other comments as he was “preoccupied”.
The PML-N has suspended the membership of Mashhood over his controversial statement, the party said in a statement.
Shehbaz has constituted a three-member committee to investigate and present its finding on Mashhood’s statement to the party in two weeks, the statement added.