Pakistan’s former interior minister Sheikh Rashid admitted on Wednesday that there were tensions between the powerful military and former prime minister Imran Khan.
Rashid, leader of his Awami Muslim League (AML), had been a staunch supporter of Khan as a minister and ally, and had spoken of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf’s (PTI) “misunderstandings” with the military establishment at the following his eviction.
A social media campaign against the armed forces and its leaders has been quite active, and slogans critical of the military were also chanted during protests on Sunday after the success of the no-confidence motion.
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“No slogans should be raised against the army,” he said ahead of a key PTI rally in Peshawar, which Khan will address.
He said the PTI should follow the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz which was critical of the military but make peace to come to power.
“If those (PML-N) who curse [the Army] can make peace with them (the army), then we should also clear up our misunderstandings and establish good relations with them (the army),” he said.
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Speaking of the PML-N’s harsh criticism of the army, he said its leaders “openly cursed this army” and now “they shine their boots”.
Shaken by the amount of criticism, the military took note on Tuesday and expressed full confidence in “the leaders’ well-considered position to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law”.
The Federal Investigation Agency has arrested eight people in a crackdown on social media activists targeting the military.
Pakistan’s mighty military has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 75 years of existence and has so far wielded considerable power in security and foreign policy.
The military, however, distanced itself from the recent high-tension political row between Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and ousted Prime Minister Khan, saying it has nothing to do with politics.