Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa has rejected as “unfounded” the impression that the Army was behind the ouster of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and said he was an ardent supporter of democracy.
Mr. Sharif, 67, stepped down after a Supreme Court Bench disqualified him on July 28 from continuing in his office for dishonesty in the Panama Papers case and ruled that corruption cases be filed against him and his children over the scandal.
Gen. Bajwa was responding to questions by members of defence committees of the National Assembly and Senate who visited General Headquarters (GHQ) on September 18.
The parliamentarians had raised many of the oft-discussed issues including security operations, military courts, defence budget, engagement with the U.S., tensions with India, problems in relations with Afghanistan, and civil-military relations, Dawn reported.
Gen. Bajwa dismissed rumours of the Army’s alleged role in the Panama Papers case as “unfounded”, told the parliamentarians that he was an ardent supporter of democracy, and believed in the supremacy of parliament, the paper said.
“One of the parliamentarians, quoting the Army chief, said the military had no role in ex-Prime Minister Nawaz Mr. Sharif’s ouster, and for him, the current Prime Minister was as good as the previous one,” the paper said.
The powerful Army, which enjoys considerable influence over policy decisions in Pakistan, has ruled the country for much of its life since it gained independence 70 years ago.
Last month, Mr. Sharif had termed his disqualification by the Supreme Court as a humiliation and said the “conspiracies” to oust him from the premiership had begun over three years ago.
During a brief stay in London this week before heading out to New York for the U.N. General Assembly session, Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had said conspiracies against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government were continuing.
Talking about the perception that the defence budget consumed a major portion of national resources, Gen. Bajwa said that it comprised nearly 18% of the total budgetary outlay. He added that more money was required, particularly in view of certain acquisitions that had to be made, some of which were overdue.