ISLAMABAD/GUJRANWALA    -   Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader and Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif Saturday grilled Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan for issuing statements about the appointment of the new Chief of the Army Staff (COAS).

The minister while addressing a press conference in Islamabad alleged that there were persistent attacks on the national security and stature of the nation as Imran Khan was a national criminal for sabotaging relief efforts and barring international agencies to stop aid to Pakistan. 

Responding to a question related to army chief’s appointment the minister said that the policy is as per the Constitution as any sitting Prime Minister in November would have to decide the nomination of the next COAS. 

“Nawaz Sharif had done the process four times and this time Shehbaz Sharif will do it. This issue had never become popular on media and Imran Khan had played a very negative role in this regard. This is a constitutional procedure and should be done on its time. The Army Chief had his loyalty to the state and its Constitution. No one should have any question about it.”

The Defence Minister also told reporters that the PM would convene National Security Committee meeting after his return and the issues would be discussed pertaining to Imran Khan’s statements jeopardising national security. The law as per the Constitution should be applied without any discrimination to all, he said.

Earlier, he said that the country would need assistance from its neighbours and the world community due to massive floods as large-scale crop losses might cause famine. 

The defence minister revealed in a media conference while sharing the updates of the Prime Minister’s visit along with his delegation to Uzbekistan at Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit of the Council of Heads of State in Samarkand.  Khawaja said the Prime Minister during his one-on-one interactions, 

bilateral meetings and speeches at the SCO Summit had highlighted that the global north damages to ozone layer caused the disaster that directly impacted over 33 million people in Pakistan. “He [Prime Minister] reiterated that in the coming days Pakistan would need the assistance of its neighbours and world community due to massive damage to its agriculture that would cause food security crisis,” the Minister said. 

He appreciated that the UN secretary general was playing the role of Pakistan’s spokesperson for spreading the word for assisting Pakistan in crisis. 

Khawaja said, “The country never needed such unity and solidarity before as the 220 million masses had to stand together to help disaster hit masses. The winter season is approaching and the flood crisis could cause famine in Pakistan.” 

During the visit, he said it was visible that the world leaders at the SCO Summit sent their greetings to Mian Nawaz Sharif and recalled their meetings with him. 

The position of Pakistan among the comity of nations was due to the initiatives taken during Mian Nawaz Sharif’s tenure and that tradition was continued by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, he added. 

While recalling the Prime Minister’s meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he said, “President Xi in a meeting said I remember Mian Shehbaz as an efficient and pragmatic leader and we believe that we will start CPEC with same spirit, efficiency and hard work.”

He added that President Xi also discussed the railway line project that was in the doldrums, CPEC projects, road network projects in our region and beyond. The Chinese President reaffirmed that China was the all weather strategic friend of Pakistan and wished that they wanted Pakistan to overcome crises and achieve stability, he said. The Chinese President, the Defence Minister said also extended all out support to Pakistan in this regard. 

The minister also briefed that Russian President Vladimir Putin appreciated Pakistan’s position on Russia-Ukraine War in the UN and internationally. “No leader claimed that their governments had proposed Pakistan to buy oil. No one wrote any letter to Pakistan. However, there have been discussions on oil, gas and wheat supplies from Russia. Russia has proposed that its gas pipelines infrastructure has been extended to Central Asian states which can be extended to Pakistan through Afghanistan to provide gas supplies.”

The Russian authorities had also extended offer for wheat supplies as a food supplies shortage was looking in the country due to flood devastation, he added. 

He noted that the Prime Minister got great attention at his maiden appearance at an international forum and got unprecedented acclaim which was evident from the pictures.

Responding to media queries, he said no personal bias or politics could overcome national interest. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) rule proposed a charter of economy which was rejected by the Imran Khan regime. 

“Imran Khan is not talking about floods rather continuously demanding power. Khan’s statement should never become topic of politics. Did Khan and his Chief Minister made any visit to flood affectees?”

He continued that the flood affectees were in pathetic condition in South Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) but there was no commitment of government of PTI. 

‘Damaged power transmission system fully restored’

Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir says power transmission system, badly damaged by floods has been fully restored in flood-affected areas across the country.

Talking to news persons in Gujranwala on Saturday, he said an important grid station of 500 KV in Dadu city was secured from flood water with the help of Army by raising an embankment on emergency basis.

Earlier, the Minister also visited Dadu grid station and a tent city for flood affected people which was established in the premises of grid station.

He assured flood-affectees that all basic amenities including food, medicines, drinking water will be provided in the tent city.

Khurram Dastgir also claimed that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will take the decision on the appointment of the chief of army staff in London after holding consultations with party supremo Nawaz Sharif. 

Addressing a press conference in Gujranwala, the energy minister, without taking PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s name, said that no matter how many times Khan meets with the army chief, the final decision will be taken by the prime minister. 

Earlier, speaking to reporters in Islamabad the defence minister said that no process was started to extend the army chief’s tenure nor there has been any suggestion in this regard. His stated this comments came while speaking during a press conference in Islamabad.