LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan’s aide, Dr Shahbaz Gill, said Friday PML-N leader Ayaz Sadiq “should not have given such a statement”, criticising the former National Assembly speaker’s controversial comments on India and IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
Speaking to the media here, Gill — special assistant to the PM on Political Communications — said: “How did you know that the prime minister’s legs were shaking?
“Were you sitting at the feet of the prime minister? Were you wiping Imran Khan’s sweat with a handkerchief that you found out [that he was sweating]?
“Sardar Ayaz Sadiq! You have been the [NA] speaker, you should not have given such a statement. If our legs were shaking, would we have shot down two planes?
“If his legs were trembling, Imran Khan would not have said Pakistan will not think [twice] before taking [retaliatory] action,” the PM’s aide said.
The SAPM added that even the PML-N leader’s clarification was delivered in an inappropriate manner, saying “Ayaz Sadiq reiterated the statement of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi”.
“The Pakistan Army is considered to be the most professional army in the world,” he stated. “The brave men of the Pakistan Army are protecting the ideological and geographical borders of our beloved homeland.”
‘Spite Imran Khan’
Gill, while taking an aim at the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), said the Opposition parties’ ‘controversial’ statements in the Gujranwala, Karachi, and Quetta rallies had now reached the assemblies.
“The Opposition’s statements can be dangerous to the national security [of Pakistan],” he underscored.
Referring to the PPP and the PML-N, he said PM Imran “is the first prime minister to break their cycle of taking turns [in power]”.
“These people,” he said, referring to the Opposition, “have now reached out for the friendship of India to spite Imran Khan.”
PM ‘a true lover of Holy Prophet (PBUH)’
With regard to Eid Milad un Nabi being observed across Pakistan, the premier’s special assistant said: “Our salvation is from the blessing of the intercession of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).
“We must express our love for the Holy Prophet (PBUH) today,” he added.
Noting that PM Imran Khan “is a true lover of Holy Prophet (PBUH)”, Gill said he presented the idea of the state of Madinah following the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) teachings.
“The prime minister, while addressing the platform of the United Nations, also played his role as the true lover of Holy Prophet (PBUH). The prime minister made the Western world understand how important the personhood of Holy Prophet (PBUH) is.
“The asset of a Muslim is the expression of love and devotion to the Holy Prophet (PBUH),” he stated.
Controversy over Kulbhushan, Abhinandan
Two senior PML-N lawmakers had earlier shared details of a meeting during which the release of Indian pilot Abhinandan Varthaman was allegedly agreed upon, and accused the PTI-led government of taking the decision under pressure.
“Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was present in the meeting, which Imran Khan had refused to attend,” Ayaz Sadiq had said, adding that it was Qureshi who had “begged the Opposition to release Abhinandan or else India would attack Pakistan at 9pm”.
“India never attacked Pakistan but the government nonetheless handed over Abhinandan to Indian authorities,” he had said, adding that it was the PTI government — and not the Opposition — that passed an ordinance to “facilitate” Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav.
The reaction that followed Sadiq’s comments was swift.
‘Highly irresponsible statements’
FM Qureshi said the former NA speaker’s comments were “contrary to the truth” and regretted that “responsible people are making irresponsible statements”.
“Highly irresponsible statements are being issued for political gains; responsible people are talking irresponsibly, which is surprising,” the foreign minister said. “These people are misleading the nation on the issues of Kulbhushan and Abhinandan.”
Ayaz Sadiq, following the foreign minister’s reaction, issued another statement via video, casting aspersions on what he termed was a “delay” before the meeting between the country’s senior leadership on the day of Abhinandan’s capture.
Later, the director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, stated that viewing the decision to release Indian air force pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman as anything other than “the mature response of a responsible state” was “highly regrettable”.
Indian planes ‘left in a panicked state’
“Yesterday, a statement was made in which an attempt was made to twist the facts [regarding Abhinandan’s release],” he said. India “not only faced defeat but humiliation all over the world”.
“Our timely response derailed their efforts. Their planes and the explosives they had come to rain down on the Pakistani people were instead dropped on empty mountains.
“They left in a panicked state after being confronted by our planes,” Maj Gen Iftikhar said, adding that in response, on February 27, the Pakistan Army sought to “teach the enemy a lesson”.
“On this decision, the entire civil and military leadership was on a single page. We responded with full might in the light of day and shot down two planes, along with arresting their pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan,” the DG ISPR said.
He highlighted that Pakistan secured a “clear victory” that day against India.