PML-N bars members from meeting armed forces, agencies personnel without Nawaz’s permission

In line with PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif’s directives last week, the party issued a circular on Tuesday barring all members from meeting any personnel from the armed forces and its related agencies in a personal or official capacity.
If, however, such a meeting is necessary “in the interest of national security and/or fulfillment of constitutional responsibilities, then it shall be done indiscreetly and with the prior permission of the party’s Quaid”, said PML-N Secretary General Ahsan Iqbal in the circular.
Last week, Nawaz Sharif barred members from holding individual, private or delegation-level meetings with the country’s military leadership without prior permission of the party leadership.
The directives were issued by the former prime minister a day after an army spokesman disclosed that former Sindh governor Mohammad Zubair had twice reached out to Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and discussed the political and legal woes of Nawaz and his daughter Maryam Nawaz in the past few weeks.
In the circular issued today, Iqbal said the party was fighting the battle for Pakistan’s survival.
“Our stance is based solely on national interests for constitutional supremacy in the country and remains above political and personal concerns,” he said, adding that he had been instructed by Nawaz to convey the party’s policies regarding meetings with the military leadership.
“The PML-N is of the firm view that such meetings, even though conducted in good faith, may cause undue controversies. We all know that the contents of such meetings may be selectively leaked in order to serve specific interests and malign the political fraternity.”
He added that while Nawaz had noted the “overwhelming response” from the party and the public as expressed at the PPP-hosted multiparty conference, he expected strong and unwavering support from the party leadership during a time when the country is passing through a “defining democratic crisis”.
Relations between the PTI-led government and opposition have become more tense in recent days after the latter held a conference where they announced a wide-ranging anti-government movement and criticised the military’s interference in politics. Following the conference on Sep 21, in which Nawaz had bitterly criticised the army for interfering in politics, a number of revelations came to the fore regarding civil-military meetings.
Most notably, it was disclosed that Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and head of the Inter-Services Int­elligence Lt Gen Faiz Hameed had held a meeting with key opposition figures days before their multiparty conference and cou­n­selled them to refrain from dragging the military into political issues.
Prime Minister Imran reportedly said he was aware of the meetings, and accused the opposition of wanting to create a rift between the government and the armed forces.