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Military Denies Role in Pakistan’s Political Unrest

by Newsweek Pakistan
Aamir Qureshi—AFP

Aamir Qureshi—AFP

PTI president Javed Hashmi had alleged that the military had directed party chief Imran Khan to align with Tahir-ul-Qadri.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Directorate has categorically rejected allegations that the military has provided support to anti-government protesters, as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed he would not resign.

In a statement issued on Monday night, the ISPR said the Army did not back either the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) or the Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) in the current political standoff. “Army is an apolitical institution and has expressed its unequivocal support for democracy at numerous occasions,” it added. “It is unfortunate that Army is dragged into such controversies. Integrity and unity of the Army is its strength, which it upholds with pride.”

Earlier, PTI president Javed Hashmi told journalists party chief Imran Khan had been instructed to advance on P.M. House on Aug. 30 by a third party. Hashmi parted ways with Khan over disagreements on the change in venue for the PTI’s sit-in. Hashmi alleged that some senior military officials had advised Khan to join forces with Tahir-ul-Qadri and advance on P.M. House. He also claimed Khan had come to Islamabad with a plan to force midterm elections at the end of August or beginning of September. Khan denied Hashmi’s allegations and claimed he was being discredited. Yesterday, Khan had told his supporters that Hashmi was no longer a member of his party.

Qadri and Khan have been staging a sit-in in Islamabad since Aug. 15, demanding Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif resign. On Monday, Sharif issued a statement denying rumors he would resign, saying: “My government will not let any body introduce the tradition of a few thousand people taking over Parliament’s supremacy.” The rumors had been prompted by an afternoon meeting between Sharif and Pakistan Army chief Raheel Sharif.

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