Nawaz Sharif attacks Pak Army, ISI chief

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Karachi: Pakistan’s deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif has blamed Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for the current political situation in the country, as the Opposition parties held their third massive joint rally against Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government.

The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a coalition of 11 Opposition parties, was formed to oust Khan from power on September 20. The alliance held two massive back-to-back gatherings in Gujranwala and Karachi this month. The third rally was held in Quetta, capital of the restive Baluchistan province, on Sunday.

Addressing the gathering via video link from London, the three-time prime minister and chief of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) again blamed Army chief Bajwa and ISI Director General Hameed for Pakistan’s current situation. “Gen Bajwa, you will have to answer for record rigging in the 2018 elections, for horse-trading in Parliament, for making Imran Niazi prime minister against people’s wishes and (by) tearing apart the Constitution and laws, for pushing people towards poverty and hunger,” 70-year-old Sharif said.

Sharif, who is entangled in a number of corruption cases, has been in London since November last year after the Lahore High Court granted him permission to go abroad for four weeks for treating the heart disease and an immune system disorder.

He also accused the ISI chief of “interfering in politics for several years with impunity” in violation of his oath. Sharif said that he names individuals “because I don’t want my Army to be defamed”.

Pakistan’s powerful Army has denied meddling in politics. Prime Minister Khan also denies that the Army helped him win the election in 2018.

“Looking at this enthusiasm, I am sure that no one will be able to violate the voters’ mandate now. I saw this enthusiasm in Gujranwala and Karachi, and now I’m seeing it in Quetta,” Sharif said, addressing the huge crowd at the stadium.

“I am aware of Baloch people’s problems, Nawaz Sharif knows … the missing persons issue is still there. I feel pain when I see the victims,” he said, in an apparent reference to the forced disappearance of hundreds of Baloch people.

He said that the PDM has risen against “unconstitutional powers that have made Pakistan hollow from inside and out”.

This is not the first time Sharif has made such allegations against top Army brass; he made similar ones in the Gujranwala rally after which a furious Prime Minister Khan had declared that he would get “tougher” with the Opposition.