Imran defends remarks about army chief's selection, calls his criticism of army 'constructive'
PESHAWAR – Ousted Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday his criticism of the army was constructive and aimed at its improvement as opposed to the comments made in the past by different leaders of the now ruling coalition.
Video clips from the recent speeches of Khan's rivals were shown on the big screen in front of PTI supporters as he tried to make his point.
“Those from the PML-N should get this straight that we are the people who would strengthen this country’s institutions,” he said. “And even if we criticise our army, it is for their betterment. What we do is constructive criticism.”
At the Faisalabad rally on Sunday, Khan had alleged the PPP and PML-N were opposing fresh elections because they wanted to “appoint an army chief of their choice” in November to save their skin in corruption cases.
Clarifying his remarks, the PTI chief said he had called for selection of the army chief to be on merit.
“Any person who is a well-wisher of someone would always want selection on merit. This is the world’s principle […] what did I say wrong?
“And along with that, I had said that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari should not select the country’s army chief,” he recalled, adding that an absconder and criminal should not be given the power to appoint the country’s army chief.
Referring to Dawn Leaks, Khan said it revealed the PML-N and Nawaz never backed the army.
Firing broadsides at former president Asif Ali Zardari, he said the PPP leader had approached the United States to “protect his government”. “Will we give [the selection] of these important posts to these people? Never,” he reiterated.
The PTI chief also slammed the PML-N for attacking the judiciary. “When I started politics 26 years back, we were the first to stand up for the judiciary. There was only one leader who went to jail for the judiciary and boycotted the 2008 elections for them,” he said.
Imran pointed out that the PTI always respected the judiciary because it believed in the rule of law.
Referring to his comments about additional sessions judge Zeba Chaudhry, the former prime minister said if it seemed like he had used a hard tone against her it was because he had seen the “custodial torture of Shahbaz Gill”.
“If it looked like my statements were harsh, this was not my intention. I can’t ever think of threatening a judge,” Khan said.
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