A Punjabi political party seems to be responsible for the plastering of 13 cities with posters around Pakistan calling for Chief of Army Staff Gen Raheel Sharif to declare martial law and remove the duly elected ruling party of the Islamic republic.
Posters call for removal of elected government to be replaced by technocrats
Thirteen cities including Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta Lahore and others saw motorists reading a message for Gen Raheel Sharif to change his mind to not only retire but to wrest control away from the legitimate government of the sovereign nation. Earlier this year, Sharif announced his intention to retire. The posters read “Janay ki baatain hui puraani, Khuda k liye ab ajao” which essentially translates to “Talks of your departure our old and is time for you take over immediately.
According to a party leader, Ali Hashmi, in and interview with “Dawn” the party wishes General Sharif to supervised the transition to a group of unelected officials the party supports.
Government officials remove the advertisements in Faisalabad and Lahore early in the day with other cities expected to follow suit according to Hashmi in the same interview.
The Move on Pakistan Party were able to put up the banners and posters despite high security in a number of these areas. The party is relatively new with a three-year existence that was filed three years ago with Mohammad Kamran, a Faisalabad businessman listed as the organizations chairman. He was business interests throughout the country including schools in Sargodha and Lahore.
This is not the first time that the party has expressed its support for the long-standing general with February posters calling on the iconic leader of the army to remain in his position and “help in eradicating terrorism and corruption.”
Contradictory messages at best from the party
The groups messages and plastering of cities with posters and banners is contradictory at first glance with the group maintaining that it’s not calling for a removal of the elected goverment while also saying “there is no choice but to enforce martial law and form a government of technocrats.”
The group and Mr. Hashmi believe that the fact Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was out of the country for nearly 50 days demonstrates that the country doesn’t require his leadership and that “Those who have been running the country will keep running it.”
Hashmi spoke to the future designs for the organization quipping, “We have been considering holding rallies from Faisalabad to Lahore and Karachi to Sukkur in the second phase to convince the army chief that he should intervene for the betterment of the country and nation.”
There was no word as to whether General Sharif knew about the party’s plan ahead of the banners appearing this week.
Minister of State for Privatisation Mohammad Zubair recently went television stating that “He [Gen Raheel] is the head of a great institution. I’m sure the person who will replace him will be equally professional and competent.”
Consequently, it’s difficult to believe the general is supportive of the messages though likely appreciates the support from the group.
However, Pakistan Peoples Party leader and Adviser to the Sindh Chief Minister on Information, Maula Bux Chandio, has publicly said on numerous television shows and in conversations with the media that he does not expect the general to retire as “Pakistan means to much to him.”
It’s unlikely that any legal action will be undertaken against the group or that arrests were made as it’s more a matter of freedom of speech than treason or sedition.