ISLAMABAD (ET): Top military commanders will meet in Rawalpindi amid rising political tensions over Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s scheduled long march on Independence Day. The corps commanders’ conference will be chaired by Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement. The military’s media wing did not say what will be discussed in the meeting that comes just days before PTI’s Azadi march which seeks the ouster of the incumbent government and fresh elections.
A senior military official sought to downplay the timing of the meeting, insisting that it was a routine monthly gathering where the top brass will review the overall security situation and discuss professional matters. However, insiders disclosed that the prevailing political situation would be one of the key agenda items during the conference. With Imran Khan’s party adamant to go ahead with its scheduled rally, political commentators believe the role of the security establishment would become crucial if the standoff continues.
Sources said the federal government is likely to give the PTI a ‘freehand’ to hold the march on August 14. The decision was taken after the government was advised to let Imran hold his protest in the capital. “Any move to stop PTI supporters from holding the march may lead to violence,” said one source familiar with consultations between the civil and military authorities on the issue.
The corps commanders would also review progress so far achieved in Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan Agency. The military commanders would also be briefed about the recently held conference on national security, where the army chief informed participants that most of the targets in operation had already been achieved.
It was also reported that the military was considering allowing internally displaced persons to return to their homes in areas where security forces had now taken full control.