During a discussion that took place at Nawaz Sharif’s Raiwind residence, the matter of lengthening the service of the army chief, the movement of the opposition parties’ directed at the personality of the prime minister and the trials set by Imran Khan and others to the PML-N government were deliberated on Tuesday.
Unidentified sources who were present during the discussions related that the “popular sentiment” which support an additional time in the service of Gen Raheel Sharif was talked over at the gathering which the prime minister was also present along with several of his closest advisors. The Information Minister, Pervaiz Rashid however, disregarded these reports and called it “baseless rumours”.
One of the informants said members of the Sharif family “were not altogether unaware” about the existence of the posters in some cities, demanding “a takeover of the country” by the army chief. He added that the notorious placards were deliberated on at a closed-door meeting attended by the members of the family.
Minister Rashid also denied the meeting ever happening, saying, “These are matters of the state. They cannot be discussed (casually) over the dining table.” He added, “Gen Raheel [Sharif] is the commander of Pakistan Army and is fighting against terrorists. The entire nation is behind him in this endeavour. We should extend our complete support to him for elimination of terrorists.”
The spokesman for the army also denied the meeting ever happening; stressing that the military was not in any way involved in the controversial posters and banners displaying the images of Gen Sharif.
In a tweet, the Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations, Lt Gen Asim Bajwa, said: “Reference Posters with #COAS pic being displayed across various cities; Army or any affiliated organisation have nothing to do with it.”
A PML-N official commented that “the PM’s body language is that of a leader determined to stand firm against his opponents”.
He added, “He is in no mood to show leniency. Most of the people the prime minister had met recently had advised him to discard his old ‘soft’ approach and get tough with Mr Khan in particular. These advisers were of the view that “defensive tactics” of the prime minister had served to embolden the PTI over time. “
“Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has asked them [his advisers] to furnish their opinion, keeping in view the general election, and come up with proposals so that a comprehensive plan addressing all political concerns of the party could be devised,” the informant revealed.
Reports also flew in that Prime Minister Sharif had been livid about the “malicious propaganda” and was advised by his aides to formulate a strategy to oppose only the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief, rather than trying to instantaneously come up with a lot of ideas.