Islamabad, Jan 11 (PTI) The Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) leaders will be offered 'chai-pani' and looked after if they march towards Rawalpindi, an Army spokesman said on Monday, as he asserted that the country's powerful institution was not interfering in the politics.
Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, the spokesman of the army's media wing - the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), made the remarks during a press conference in Rawalpindi, where the Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters is located.
'I don't see a reason for (them) coming to Pindi. And if at all they want to come, we will offer them chai-pani (refreshments) and look after them. What more can I say?' Maj Gen Iftikhar said while responding to a question about the threat of the PDM to march on Rawalpindi.
His remarks came days after PDM president Maulana Fazlur Rehman said that the opposition alliance's movement would no longer be directed only at the Prime Minister Imran Khan-led government but also 'his backers', in an apparent reference to the army. He hinted that a possible long march to the capital 'could also be to Rawalpindi'.
The PDM – an alliance of 11 opposition parties – was formed against the Pakistan Army's interference in politics and installing 'puppet' Prime Minister Khan through a manipulated election.
Opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif has repeatedly blamed Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and spy agency ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed for Pakistan's current situation.
When asked why action was not being taken against those targeting the army, the spokesman said the armed forces were doing their job and not worried about such criticism.
'When it comes to criticism or allegations levelled, the army is doing its job. As to why are we not responding to that, only such allegations are responded to which have some weight or are based on facts.
'We have our hands full and we neither want to get involved in such things nor will we. We have stayed the course [and] we will stay the course. There is nothing to worry about; we are not worried,' he added.
The Army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 70 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.
However, the military has denied meddling in the country’s politics. Khan also denies that the army helped him win the election in 2018.
Prime Minister Khan faces a serious challenge as the PDM set a January 31 deadline for him to step down or face a 'Long March' to Islamabad.
The PDM has held massive rallies in major cities to seek Khan's ouster and press the powerful military to stop interfering in politics. PTI SH ZH ZH