ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan Saturday said the language being used by the opposition leadership against the military during their anti-government drive was similar to Indian propaganda employed to discredit Pakistan as a nation.
The premier was speaking at an event in Chakwal where he had gone to inaugurate construction work on a number of development projects including a university and a hospital.
This was the prime minister’s first visit to the historic city after coming to power in August 2018.
The visit is part of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government’s vision “to pay special attention to districts neglected in the past,” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) said ahead of the visit.
وزیرِ اعظم عمران خان آج چکوال کا دورہ کریں گے۔
وزیرِ اعظم کا دورہِ چکوال ملک بھر میں حکومت کے ترقیاتی منصوبوں اور خاص کر ماضی میں نظر انداز ہونے والے اضلاع پر خصوصی توجہ کے سلسلے کی ایک کڑی ہے۔ pic.twitter.com/vuY9Tp4atB
— Prime Minister’s Office, Pakistan (@PakPMO) December 26, 2020
Referring to the recent wave of the anti-government meetings held under the banner of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), an umbrella alliance of 11 opposition parties seeking to oust the PTI-led government, he said: “The way the political opposition of Pakistan has attacked the army […] this has never happened before in our history.”
Deposed prime minister and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supreme leader Nawaz Sharif, in his speeches from London where he had gone in November 2019 for medical treatment, has accused the military of toppling his government, influencing the judiciary and installing the incumbent government in the 2018 elections.
“Former military dictator General Pervez Musharraf used to be criticised, but he was political […] the criticism being dealt out these days, I am sorry to say, is using the language that India’s propaganda machine uses against the Pakistan Army,” Khan said.
The premier also referred to the recent report of a European disinformation watchdog, EU Disinfo Lab, to make his case.
The Brussels-based group uncovered a massive disinformation network, traced back to New Delhi, operating since 2005 in Brussels and Geneva to “discredit Pakistan internationally” and influence decision-making at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and European Parliament through resurrected NGOs and fake news outlets.
“The purpose of this [Indian propaganda] was to present Pakistan in a negative light in front of the world and to portray that there is chaos so that no one invests in the country,” the premier said.
“The Pakistan Army was also targeted […] India wants the army to be portrayed as a rogue army and as terrorists.”
Khan stated that it was also discovered that the fake websites unearthed in the investigation were also promoting the PDM.
“This is the first time that Pakistan’s opposition has targeted the Pakistan Army in this way. There is no prior example of this.”
Khan also rubbished the claims of receiving the support of the establishment to come into power. “If the election was rigged, did you go to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) or the Supreme Court,” he asked.
“Did you take this up in Parliament? Did you say at any forum that the election was rigged?”
The visit came at a crucial time for the party and the premier who is under an increasing burden to deliver on his electoral promise of a strengthened economy independent of foreign assistance and loans even as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on global financial markets.
Earlier this week, Khan, at a ceremony held to review the performance of various ministries and divisions, said the government was left with no excuse for not delivering on its promises.
“This is time for performance and delivery,” he had said.
At the ceremony, the prime minister spoke candidly about the pitfalls, the challenges as well as the hardships his government had inherited and reiterated his resolve to overcome all the obstacles in the way of good governance and public service.
“We have learnt during the first two-and-half years of the government and now we have no excuse that we are new and now the time for performance has come,” he had added.
“It took us three months just to understand everything. What we had assumed from the outside government was totally different from within government,” he said, adding that some actual figures weren’t even accessible for 1.5 years.
“A new government should always come into power prepared.”
In November, a local influential and PTI leader, Sardar Ghulam Abbas, parted ways with the ruling party, which he had joined shortly before the 2018 elections, and joined the anti-government Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
Criticising the government’s performance at the time, Abbas said the PTI had done nothing for the public. “When Imran Khan came into power, we thought he had [a] vision. But now, after more than two years in power, it has been proven that he had everything except a vision,” he had said.
Punjab Higher Education Minister Raja Yasir Hamayun, a relative of Abbas, had said the latter’s departure would not be a setback for the party.
“It is his personal decision. My party is the PTI,” he said, however, adding that Abbas “supported me in the election and I am thankful to him.”
More details to follow