Govt warns opposition against playing ‘dangerous game’, attacking institutions

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The government on Saturday slammed the opposition-led Pakistan Democratic Movement for targeting the country’s institutions during the first rally of its anti-government campaign in Gujranwala and warned the alliance against playing a “dangerous game”.

Addressing a press conference alongside Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Chaudhry, Information Minister Shibli Faraz said that the opposition was causing harm to the country by targeting national institutions.

“You are causing the country a lot of harm [and] are using the language of our enemies which is something we will not allow you to do. We stand behind our institutions and will not tolerate any such comment which will endanger our security or the people that stand for it.”

The information minister’s comments come a day after the PDM — an alliance of 11 political parties — staged its first public meeting and vowed to dislodge the government within weeks.

The rally was addressed by PDM’s top tier leadership including Maulana Fazlur Rehman, Maryam Nawaz, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, Mahmood Achakzai and many others.

PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif also addressed the rally from London via video link, accusing the security establishment of being behind his ouster as prime minister and for “bringing Imran Khan into power”.

His comments came less than a month after Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed in a meeting with key opposition figures had cou­n­selled them to refrain from dragging the military into political issues.

Commenting on Nawaz’s speech, Chaudhry said the former premier was acting like a “scorned lover”.

“[Nawaz] can’t understand how to exact revenge from the Army for jilting him. He is unable to forget the past when he was [the favourite].”

Chaudhry also warned the opposition against playing a “dangerous game”. “Don’t disrespect our jawans and martyrs by adopting this narrative,” he said, adding that it was India’s agenda to draw a comparison between the upper and lower ranks of the Army.

“This is why I was against Nawaz going abroad […] because when such people go abroad, they become Altaf Hussain. They become an asset for the international establishment.”

He added that when the opposition talked about the difference between Pakistan Army officers, they were pushing India’s agenda. “That is why the people of Gujranwala, Sialkot and Narowal rejected you.”

Chaudhry went on to say that the opposition’s targeting of the Army and the courts was saddening. “This is an attack on the state. If you want to exact revenge in this manner, by saying that until the Army and the courts play a role in helping you save your money, then [realise] that no one will do this.”

You are now working on a dangerous narrative and this will also fail, he said. The minister added that Prime Minister Imran Khan’s prediction during a TV interview in 2011— that the opposition would band together once the process of accountability was initiated — was ringing true.

“Understand this now and in the future, we will not grant you relief on any of your cases and Nawaz will be brought back from London.”

‘Flop show’

During today’s media briefing, the information minister called the opposition’s powershow a “flop show”.

“Their show of unity lacked unity, belief and discipline. They way that Maulana Fazlur Rehman — who is the head of their alliance — was made to address empty chairs […] I think it was made obvious that they don’t have a programme or a way forward for the people.

“Those who didn’t accomplish anything during 40 years of governance, what will they be able to accomplish now? They are here to empathise with the poor but when was the last time Maryam Nawaz interacted with a poor person?

“What do they know about the poor and the problems they face? They didn’t even have such people at their rally.” Faraz added that the result of a month’s worth of hype and speeches was a half-full stadium. “People left without listening to the speeches.”

The information minister also lambasted PML-N leader Khawaja Asif and PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari for using “inappropriate” language for women that were “not involved in politics”.

“[Bilawal] your own mother was in politics. Did you not realise that the language you were using may not be appropriate?”

Meanwhile, Chaudhry mocked the opposition for only being able to gather 15,000 to 18,000 people after spending millions.

“The population of Gujranwala is in the millions [and] the opposition was only able to gather 15,000 to 18,000,” he said, adding that the PDM president addressed empty chairs at two in the morning.

Dawn News

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