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A presser that has ammunition for both sides

In the heated political atmosphere where civilians were busy bashing each other, the press conference by the ISPR Director-General changed political discussions altogether.

Former prime minister Imran Khan repeatedly claimed that the “Parliamentary Committee on National Security has confirmed the foreign conspiracy”. PTI members frequently stated on behalf of the armed forces that “they have the same stance as the of the body’s press statement”.

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Thus, it was being assumed by Imran khan supporters that maybe the military has confirmed the foreign involvement as well, which is why Chairman PPP Bilawal Zardari repeatedly urged ISPR to put light on the claims being made by former prime minister Imran Khan and clear all misunderstandings for once and all.

ISPR DG Major General Babar Iftikhar held a brief press conference on Wednesday regarding the issue. In the conference, the DG clearly stated that there was no mention of any foreign conspiracy in the letter. He rejected the claim of Khan about saying “no” to the US for airbases, adding that the US did not ask for any airbases in the first place. He rejected the claim that the military gave any options to Khan, in fact, it was Khan who first approached them for a solution amid the political havoc for his government.

When the DG ISPR held this conference, it was assumed that Imran Khan’s narrative will fade away after the clarification of the DG ISPR. Most media groups highlighted the conference as a blow to Khan’s narrative. Meanwhile, the ISPR confirmed that the letter was indeed received by ISI too from the ambassador. He said that the language used in the letter was informal that indicated “interference”, and that is the single line that PTI took out of the whole conference and again used to strengthen its narrative before its supporters.

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“See, ISPR confirmed the letter and the involvement, told ya”. Certain, pro-PTI media groups and anchors also centred their news stories and analysis around this single sentence that goes in the favour of PTI and rejected all the other statements that categorically rejected the basic claims made by Imran khan.

The ISPR should have cleared the context of “interference” as well, however, Major General Babar Iftikhar didn’t confirm the claim of PTI that opposition members were given the task to oust Imran Khan by the US and no-confidence motion itself is a dirty tactic by the US as Khan claimed.

No confidence motion was in consideration for months. The Opposition was delaying this move, but Imran Khan and his ministers provoked the opposition on a daily basis by bringing the motion taunting that they will never be able to get the majority. Imran Khan himself even thanked Allah on national tv for bringing the motion but soon labelled it as a foreign conspiracy when the opposition gained numbers which is weird. So ISPR needs to clear this ambiguity as well as whether the opposition was being backed by the US and do we have a planted government or not.

The conference of DG ISPR is available on different channels online and the comment section is divided. PML-N and the coalition supporters are lauding ISPR for telling the facts, while PTI supporters are sceptical of ISPR as well. It was being assumed that this conference might make the PTI supporters question whether the foreign conspiracy narrative might be a scam, but the comment section indicated otherwise.

PTI supporters were bashing DG ISPR and accusing him of lying as well. Some supporters (or maybe foreign accounts) commented that even Army is supporting the “imported regime”. This is an indicator that the inclusion of the narrative of PTI is so strong among its supporters that they even are not willing to believe the armed forces if they say something contradictory.

It is ISPR, Unlike civilians, the military does not like to repeat its narrative. They cleared their position very well. However, people are interpreting their message as they wish. They are assuming what they want to hear. People need to understand that it is the duty of the military to cooperate with the sitting government, no matter whether it is the PML-N, PPP, or PTI. They were cooperating with PTI too, and now they will cooperate with Shehbaz Sharif as well keeping the eerie past aside.

The military cannot favour your favourite party. Neither can it save any government. It is not its fault if PTI failed to secure a two-thirds majority and had to rely on allies. It is not their fault that PTI failed to secure the required number to beat the no-confidence motion. Do you expect the military to tell MNAs at gunpoint to vote in favour of Khan? It is not their fault if Khan exploited the constitution. Imran Khan made a lot of blunders that caused his ouster.

Similarly, in the case of PML-N, it was not the fault of the Army that the Sharif family had offshore companies. Both the Supreme Court and the military are just performing their duties. Let us not blame these institutions for the blunders made by your own favourite leaders.

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