A meeting between Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Imran Khan and army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has triggered speculation about a realignment of political forces in Islamabad.
Friday’s meeting, held at the request of Khan, set off rumours of a possible understanding between the military and the cricketer-turned-politician’s party.
“It is unusual for an army chief to meet the leader of a political party and that is why there was speculation about what kind of message was being given,” said political analyst Mujeebur Rehman Shami.
Chief military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted that Khan felicitated Bajwa on his promotion and appointment as the army chief.
Khan and Bajwa discussed various issues at the meeting, Ghafoor added.
This was the first meeting between Khan and the army chief since Bajwa took command of the Pakistan Army on November 29 last year.
PTI spokesman Naeem ul Haque said the meeting lasted for an hour, “during which national and international issues were discussed”.
The PTI has strongly criticised Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government about withholding information regarding the deployment of Pakistani troops in Saudi Arabia. On Saturday, the PTI said it will take up the “crucial issue” of Pakistan joining the Saudi-led Islamic Military Alliance in parliament.
PTI lawmaker Shireen Mazari told the media: “The big question is why parliament was not consulted on such a major issue given the earlier parliament’s resolution.”
The April 2015 parliamentary resolution had urged the government to stay neutral in the face of Riyadh’s demands to join its military campaign in Yemen.
Mazari described the development as “damaging” for the country, and said it would make Pakistan a party to the ongoing Arab conflict. She said the ruling PML-N party had a habit of making such important foreign policy decisions secretly.
Mazari also rejected the Foreign Office statement of March 30 that the alliance would not impact the country’s neutral stance on Middle East affairs.