Thursday Sep 24, 2020
Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa met PML-N leader Mohammad Zubair twice in the past two months, Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar said on Wednesday.
The military's spokesperson — speaking to a private news channel — said former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter, Maryam Nawaz were part of the discussion. The meetings, Gen Babar Iftikhar said, were held at Zubair's request.
The first of the two meetings took place at the end of August — in which ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed was also present — while the second took place on September 7.
The army chief made it clear during the meetings that legal problems will be solved by the courts and that political problems should be handled by the parliament.
"The army chief had said that the armed forces must be kept away from these talks," said the DG ISPR.
Meanwhile, Zubair confirmed that he met the army chief at the end of August and during September.
In a tweet, he referred to the army chief as "an old friend", adding that their families had also met over dinners in the past and their discussion revolved mostly around economy, politics and around Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz as well.
"The first thing I told him was that I am not seeking relief for myself, the party, Maryam or Nawaz Sharif," he said. "Neither Maryam nor Nawaz Sharif asked me to hold the meetings [with the army chief]."
Zubair said that he had a long-standing association with Gen Bajwa.
"Such meetings are kept secret," he added.
Speaking on Geo News' show 'Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath', Zubair claimed that the DG ISI was not present in the first meeting but was part of the second meeting between him and the army chief.
He said that when the meeting came to a close, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed got up and asked him "What are you asking?"
To which, Zubair claimed he responded by saying that he wasn't asking for anything. In response, the former Sindh governor claimed that the ISI chief said he thought Zubair had come "to ask for relief".
The PML-N leader said that he knew the army chief for the past 40 years ever since his school and college days. He said that it was a "personal and social" meeting between the two which is why he did not bother informing Maryam Nawaz or Nawaz Sharif that he had met the army chief.
Zubair said that he believed in civilian supremacy and that the army should not be involved in political affairs and neither should the army be involved in them.
The PML-N leader reiterated that the DG ISPR had not said that he had asked for relief from the army chief.
The statement from the DG ISPR came after PML-N vice president Maryam Nawaz earlier stated that no representative of her father, Nawaz, had met the army chief.
In an informal conversation outside the Islamabad High Court, a journalist had asked Maryam if the "establishment" and the PML-N leadership had come to "an agreement" since Nawaz's speeches along with hers were aired on television.
"Maybe the media should tell us why our speeches are being broadcast," she had responded, saying "tyranny and pressure tactics" only work to a certain extent and are not always fruitful.
The PML-N leader had denied knowledge of a dinner being hosted at the General Headquarters (GHQ), adding, however, "I believe the political leadership was called over to discuss the issue of Gilgit-Baltistan".
She had said that Nawaz has a heart condition and that she was not in favour of such a meeting.
"Gilgit-Baltistan is a political issue," Maryam had said, adding that "it should be resolved in the parliament, not at the GHQ".
"Neither should the GHQ summon the political leadership on such matters nor should the political leadership go there," Maryam said.