Prime Minister Imran Khan once again reiterated his complete support to army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa as well as head of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Gen Faiz Hameed on Sunday.
The premier was addressing the nation during his visit to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B) on the region’s 73rd Independence Day, where he paid tribute to the Gilgit Scouts and all others who sacrificed their lives to gain independence from the Dogras on November 1st, 1947.
The PM’s support for the chief of army staff and DG ISI came in an apparent response to Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz MNA Ayaz Sadiq’s speech in the National Assembly wherein he insinuated that Pakistan handed Indian pilot Abhinandan Vartaman back to India, in February 2019, ‘under pressure’ of the latter attacking Pakistan.
“I thank God that if they [opposition] are talking against them [COAS, DG ISI] then my decision to select them was right,” he said. “I must have taken the right decision if the thieves are talking against them,” the PM further added.
The prime minister likened the PML-N leader’s comments to the traitorous acts of Mir Sadiq and Mir Jaffer. He said it was traitors like Mir Sadiq and Mir Jaffer who weakened Muslim rulers in the region, who otherwise were known for giving befitting responses to all kinds of challenges.
He said the opposition had resorted to a narrative that was damaging to the state all because “I refused to give them an NRO on their corruption”.
The premier added that he will now focus on ensuring the supremacy of law as much as he focused on improving the economy, which he claimed had set off in the right direction.
“Now I will make sure that all those trying to blackmail me are brought under these laws,” he said adding, “And now you’ll all see in no time whose legs will shiver, and will have a sweaty forehead”.
The prime minister said that today he wanted to pay homage to the Gilgit Scouts and all those martyrs who laid down their lives to gain freedom in the region 73 years ago.
“Another thing I wanted to talk about today is the provincial status of G-B,” he said, whie annoncing a provisional provincial status for the region. The prime minister said that the region was being granted the status in light of the UN Security Council’s resolutions.
Excusing himself from discussing a development package for G-B considering the region was due to hold elections on November 15, the premier regardless assured the attendee’s that the government’s policy was about uplifting areas that were underdeveloped as well as the lower economic classes.
“I will not talk about the development packages for Gilgit-Baltistan since it would be a violation of the state’s procedures as elections were about to take place in the area,” he said. “However, I would like to tell you that my government’s top priority is to uplift Pakistan’s poor population that constitutes about 25% of the total population that is below poverty line,” the premier added.
PM Imran said G-B remained backward because it was “cut off” from the rest of Pakistan for a long time till the Karakoram Highway connected it to rest of the country.
“Those regions of Pakistan that remained backward such as G-B, the tribal regions, Balochistan and other western regions.. my government’s policy is to develop all of them,” he said.
“And you will see in the coming days that our development programme will focus on these areas,” he added.
A strong army
Pointing to the security personnel standing guard at the ceremony, the premier said he wanted to tell the entire nation the importance of a strong army.
Appreciating the country’s armed forces, PM Imran said the country would have been unable to survive the last 15 years had it not been for the sacrifices rendered by the security forces while combating terrorism. “Not a week goes by when our security forces don’t lay down their lives,” he said.
Further stressing on the need for an indestructible army, the premier said that our neighbouring India has not seen a more “fascist, racist and totalitarian” government in the past 73 years. “It is not only trying to destablilise Pakistan through terrorist attacks”, but also making use of other tactics, such as flaring sectarian tensions in the country, “as was revealed by [captured Indian spy] Kulbhushan Jadhav [during interrogations]”, he said.
The Modi-led government hates Muslims and Pakistan, the premier observed. “The laws that they have passed… and what they did in Kashmir… no Indian government has ever managed to do that,” said the PM.
“It is in this scenario that we need to see the role of the army,” he added.