PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Friday said the appointment of the army chief should be made in manner similar to the Supreme Court chief justice’s selection and accused the incumbent government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif of relegating Pakistan Army’s status to that of Punjab Police.

Imran claimed that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif could “never appoint the army chief on merit,” and “I know Nawaz will first tell the new army chief to somehow get rid of me.”

These remarks came after it was reported that President Arif Alvi said he would sign the summary for the appointment of new army chief as he didn’t have the powers to withhold or sent it back.

Alvi, who was talking to his close aides, said he as a president did not have the authority to act against the prime minister’s advice, which would be executed in letter and spirit. He never hindrance in the state affairs, he added.

However, Imran told a delegation of journalists at his home in Zaman Park, Lahore, that the current government was amending the Pakistan Army Act (PPA) 1952 for personal benefits. The move was meant to drag the army to the level of Punjab Police, he alleged.

He repeated his claims that PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif wants the appointment of an army chief, who would waive his [Nawaz] cases and bring him back to power.

Imran also lashed out at Nawaz Sharif and former president Asif Ali Zardari over the matter of the EVMs and said he did not meet the army chief in Lahore. It was Alvi who called on the army chief to merely talk on the matter of snap polls with transparency.

Later in the day, Imran, in an apparent reference to the appointment of new army chief, again targeted Nawaz and said thieves were making decisions for the country.

Imran, in a live address to the participants of the long march, questioned what right Nawaz had to make decisions about the country and alleged that Nawaz had stolen millions from the country and stashed in abroad. The only way to achieve true independence was to ensure decisions were taken in the country and not abroad, he remarked. “Free nations take decisions for their country.”

Powerful dacoits were getting off scot-free while the common man was imprisoned, he told his supporters in a live address to the participants of the long march.

He said Nawaz didn’t care about Pakistan and his entire was living abroad, adding that free and fair elections were the only way forward. Nawaz was not opting for fresh polls as the PML-N leader knew he would lose.

“That is why he (Nawaz) is scared. He knows that if Imran Khan comes to power, he will hold Nawaz accountable. This is the reason he wants to appoint his own army chief.”

Imran said his campaign for ‘Haqeeqi Azadi’ was to free the nation, but added that true freedom could never be achieved if the laws were different for the elite and the common man.

About the Wazirabad attack, the PTI chairman said he was unable to register a case as per his wishes despite being a former premier just because it contained the names of “powerful people”. However, he again stated that his party’s alliance with Punjab Chief Minister Pervaiz Elahi was working smoothly.

He said the PTI’s struggle would continue until the system changed. “Even if elections are announced, our struggle will continue till there is rule of law.”

“In countries where rule of law exists, the people are free. People here don’t get justice in police stations and in court […] why do people leave Pakistan? Because countries abroad have rule of law and they know they will be rewarded if they work hard.”

In his live address, he said that the nation had understood the reason of the party’s long march. “The time has come to become independent through the real way.”

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