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Pakistan’s military ‘well aware’ of its constitutional limits, says army chief

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Pakistan’s military ‘well aware’ of its constitutional limits, says army chief

Gen. Asim Munir says constitution ‘clearly defines limits of freedom of speech’. Those, who flout the clear restrictions imposed on freedom of expression in the constitution, cannot point fingers at others.

Amir Latif Arain 

Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan

Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Asim Munir on Thursday said that the military was “well aware” of its constitutional limits and expected others to “uphold the constitution.”

Addressing a passing-out parade of cadets at Pakistan Air Force Academy in Risalpur town of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Munir said the country’s constitution “clearly defines the limits of freedom of speech and expression of opinion. (But) those, who flout the clear restrictions imposed on freedom of expression in the constitution, cannot point fingers at others.”

His remarks came on the heels of an ongoing political crisis that continues to persist even after crucial Feb. 8 elections, and reports of a possible dialogue between the army and the political parties.

Khan, who parlayed his cricket stardom into a popular politician, and is currently languishing in a jail in the northeastern garrison city of Rawalpindi after being convicted in several cases, has already rejected a negotiation offer by the ruling coalition.

He, however, has shown his consent to hold a dialogue with the army.

Khan has constituted a three-member committee, led by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur, to hold dialogue with the “establishment,” a term commonly used in Pakistan to designate the army.

According to Shaharyar Afridi, a central PTI leader, his party will “only negotiate” with the army as the civilian government had “no authority” to negotiate.

However, political analysts do not see anything like that happening.

“There is no dialogue – open or behind the doors – between the army and the PTI,” Sajjad Mir, a Lahore-based political commentator, told Anadolu, contending that there was no immediate possibility for the dialogue either.

“Before holding a dialogue, there are always some confidence-building measures from both sides, which completely lack in this case. The PTI’s social media brigade is continuously targeting the army and its chief. How can a dialogue be initiated in this atmosphere,” he added.

Mir referred to the army chief’s remarks about freedom of speech as an “ anti-army” social media campaign by the supporters of a “particular party.”

Abdul Khaliq Ali, a Karachi-based political analyst, shared a similar view, foreseeing no immediate dialogue between the two sides.

“There is a huge trust deficit (between the two sides) considering the fact the PTI is not ready to accept the responsibility of the May 9 incidents,” he told Anadolu.

“Until, and unless, this trust deficit is addressed, there is no possibility of a dialogue,” he concluded.

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Aamir Latif is a senior journalist based in Karachi. He represents Anadolu, a Turkish news agency.  

Courtesy: Anadolu Agency (Posted on 02.05.2024) 

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