Army leadership wants Musharraf to return to Pakistan: DG ISPR

Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar has said that the top military leadership’s stance is to bring ailing former president Gen (retd) Pervez Musharraf, who has been living in Dubai since 2106, back to Pakistan in view of his critical medical condition.

Speaking to a local TV channel on Tuesday, the chief military spokesperson said that family of the former president had been approached and added that final decision of his return will be taken by his family and doctors.

"General Pervez Musharraf's health is very bad. In such a situation, the leadership of the institution is of the view that he should be brought back to Pakistan. But this decision will be made by his family and doctors."

He added that arrangements for his return would be made after his family’s response.

Also read: Ailing ex-president Musharraf ‘wants to spend rest of his life in Pakistan’

Musharraf’s family last Friday denied reports of his demise, saying the former chief executive was not on the ventilator but added that his recovery was “not possible”.

“He has been hospitalised for the last 3 weeks due to a complication of his ailment (Amyloidosis). Going through a difficult stage where recovery is not possible and organs are malfunctioning. Pray for ease in his daily living," the family wrote in a statement through Musharraf's official Twitter account.

Sources told The Express Tribune on Monday that the former military rulers had expressed his desire that he wanted to spend the rest of his life in Pakistan.

His close associates have approached the 'powerful quarters' and government officials to remove any obstacle in his return to the country.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said last week that there should be no obstacle in former president Musharraf's return to Pakistan in view of his illness.

He also prayed for his health so that he could live his remaining life with ‘dignity’.

جنرل مشرف کی خراب صحت کے پیش نظر انکو وطن واپس آنے میں کوئی رکاوٹ نہیں ھونا چاہیے. ماضی کے واقعات کواس سلسلے میں مانع نہیں ھونے دینا چاہیے .اللہ انکو صحت دے اور وہ عمر کے اس حصہ میں وقار کیساتھ اپنا وقت گزار سکیں..
— Khawaja M. Asif (@KhawajaMAsif) June 11, 2022

Defence budget

Commenting on criticism aimed at the defence allocation, the DG ISPR said the defence budget had actually been decreased in real terms after taking into account inflation and rupee depreciation.

The budget document on Friday showed that the defence outlay for fiscal year 2022-23 would be Rs1,523 billion as compared to the revised defence spending of Rs1,483 earmarked for the ongoing fiscal. However, the proposed increase in defence spending reaches 11 per cent when compared with the pre-revision budget of Rs1,370 billion.

Read more: Rs1.52tr allocated for defence spending

Observers, however, claimed that given the skyrocketing inflation in reality there was no increase in defence spending during the last three years.

Citing “annual debate” on defence allocation after federal budget, the military spokesperson said the military expenditure was based on the "threat perception, challenges, deployment and the resources available".

“Considering all factors, the military has not sought any increase in the budget since 2020… defence budget was actually reduced. It was 2.8pc of GDP last year and now it stands at 2.2% so the defence spending is going down in GDP terms.”

Speaking about the austerity measures, Gen Babar said instructions for conserving fuel and curtailing expenditures have been issued.

Military would observe Friday as a "dry day" when no official transport would be used except for emergencies.

‘Foreign conspiracy’

Speaking about former PM Imran Khan’s allegations, Gen Babar said no evidence of a ‘foreign conspiracy’ was found and the participants of National Security Committee (NSC) were clearly told that no conspiracy was hatched against the PTI-led government.

"No one has the right to distort the facts. The armed forces and their leadership have been the target of propaganda for some time now," he said.

Also read: Don’t drag military into politics, warns ISPR

Responding to former interior minister Sheikh Rashid’s claims about the NSC meeting, the military spokesperson said everyone has the right to have their own opinion but “no one should spread lies”.

The ISPR chief said he would not comment on the ongoing session of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), adding that India lobbied against Pakistan to place it on black list.

Pakistan-China ties

The top military spokesperson termed the recent visit of army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to China “very imporatnt” wherein both the countries vowed to step up cooperation on what the official statement described "their strategic partnership" in the challenging times.

Gen Babar said Pakistan-China have strategic ties which are crucial for peace in the region and added that no compromise will be made on security of CPEC projects.

The responsibility of security of CPEC projects has been given to the Pakistan Army, he maintained. The DG ISPR added that the army chief also met with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the visit.

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