Prime Minister Imran Khan and other ministers visited the army headquarters in Rawalpindi on Thursday
The army chief told us that the army is an institution that falls under the civilian government and will follow its policies, said Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry. Speaking to the media outside Parliament House in Islamabad on Friday, he said that during a meeting at the army headquarters in Rawalpindi, Prime Minister Imran Khan and some ministers were briefed on Pakistan’s defence and security issues. He had earlier said that they met for eight hours and that the army leadership spoke to them without holding anything back. Policy making is the government’s job, he said, adding that the PTI-led government, unlike its predecessor, will be taking all stakeholders into confidence. The PTI’s policy is to include everyone’s input in policy making, Chaudhry explained, adding that it won’t be like the past where former premier Nawaz Sharif decided policies, such as relations with India’s Narendra Modi and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and everyone else was left in the dark. Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa categorically told us that the army is an institution that will follow the civilian government’s policies, said the information minister. Challenges need to be addressed by all institutions and we need to reach a consensus, he said. He discussed foreign policy during the media talk and said the government wants peace and stability in Afghanistan and peace with India. Instead of fighting each other, let’s fight against poverty, he said. Normalistaion with India is a very important part of our agenda, he said. The information minister also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to China and CPEC. He said Pakistan and China have a socioeconomic and geo-economic relationship and that the government will complete CPEC and take it further. There are $22 billion worth of energy projects in Pakistan as part of CPEC and $6 billion worth of infrastructure, he said. However, he said that improved relations with China do not mean that the government doesn’t want better relations with the US and Russia. “All our institutions are not only on the same page but they are reading the same book,” he said, adding that they will resolve Pakistan’s problems and challenges. Chaudhry also discussed the issue of the cancellation of the cartoon contest to draw the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) in Holland and said that it is a legal issue. “It’s not that the West wants to hurt Muslim’s sentiments, it’s just a small faction. Just like we have similar small factions here who want to hurt people,” he said. He reiterated Prime Minsiter Imran Khan’s stance on the issue, explaining that in some European countries it is illegal to speak about the holocaust in order to not hurt people’s sentiments. European countries should ensure the sentiments of the billions of Muslims around the world are also safeguarded, said Chaudhry. He said a legal route should be taken to ensure that everyone’s religious rights are protected.