Shahbaz showers praise on ‘straightforward’ COAS

LAHORE: Pakistan Mus­lim League-Nawaz (PML-N) president and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Wednesday reiterated his viewpoint that civilians and the army should work together to counter the challenges faced by the country.

For the first time, the chief minister openly expressed his support for Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, even as many in his party blame the military establishment for the current political crisis facing the Sharifs. “The civilian and military authorities must work together to counter the challenges facing Pakistan,” he said, while talking to journalists at the Kidney and Liver Transplant Institute on Wednesday.

The chief minister recently returned to the country after visiting London for over a week, during which he held several meetings with political leaders. Answering a question, he said that he had read about the ‘Bajwa Doctrine’ in news reports and was not aware of it much beyond them.

He said that in a meeting he had had with the chief of the army staff, he had found him to be professional and straightforward. “We must respect and honour the efforts the army chief is making (to safeguard national interests).”

Urges civil and military authorities to work together for country

He said the sacrifices made by the armed forces to ensure the country’s defence and to eliminate terrorism and fanaticism should be appreciated.

Replying to a query regarding the active role played by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) recently, he said NAB had a basic responsibility to investigate corruption and dishonesty. “It is the responsibility of NAB to ensure accountability and to investigate dishonesty, whether it is by a minister or a bureaucrat… but this accountability needs to be indiscriminate.”

He said the authority should the recover money from established cases involving billions of rupees. “Whether it is the PML-N, PTI or PPP, it will be a great loss to the nation if the accountability process suffers due to political expeditiousness.” He said he too had appeared before NAB and answered their queries.

In response to a question about his meeting with former interior minister Chaudhry Nisar, the Punjab chief minister said Mr Nisar has rendered invaluable services for the party, “however, as the PML-N president, it is my responsibility to maintain party discipline. Therefore, I have told everyone not to violate party discipline. The practice of levelling allegations must be stopped so that the party can go into the elections with full focus.”

He said he hoped that the elections would be held on time and in a fair and transparent manner, so that the country could continue with its plans for development.

About his recent trip to London, he said that he had been abroad for a medical check-up regarding cancer which he had suffered in 2003, and had gotten treated in London first and then in the US. He regretted the rumour-mongering around his London visit.

Commenting on a recent controversy surrounding the Orange Line Metro Train (OLMT) project, he remarked that no evidence regarding the alleged corruption in the project had surfaced.

“Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan said there had been corrupt practices during the construction of the Orange Line project, but none of those allegations were proven.”

Urging political leaders to refrain from engaging in politics of “lies and allegations”, he said that nations that progressed did not get embroiled in frequent protests. He alleged that the PTI had created a culture of strikes and sit-ins.

The chief minister promised to “bring Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on a par with Punjab” in development if the PML-N was elected to power in the upcoming polls.