LAHORE: Retired Brigadier Muzaffar Ali Ranjha, former chief of the Punjab branch of the Military Intelligence (MI), has rejected Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan’s claim that the army helped the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz win the 2013 elections, saying such an allegation coming from a party leader after the inquiry into the poll rigging by the judicial commission is ‘deceitful’.
Mr Ranjha advised Mr Khan to get his rigging allegations probed by another commission if he was still not satisfied, sarcastically saying if he failed to prove his claim, the punishment should not be less than hanging.
“Did he (Imran Khan) not get answer from the judicial commission headed by then chief justice of Pakistan Nasirul Mulk that completely rejected his allegations? If he is still not satisfied and not ready to abandon his rigging idea, then I ask him to get these again probed by another commission comprising three persons, one each from the army, the judiciary and the media. Before this I ask him to give an undertaking along with me to be ready to go for capital punishment in the wake of its (commission) report,” retired Brig Ranjha said while talking to Dawn on Friday.
Asks PTI leader to stop maligning institution of army
Mr Khan in an interview to a private TV on Thursday had accused Brig Ranjha, who is currently the head of the Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE) in Punjab, of ensuring victory of the PML-N in the last elections. The PTI chairman
had said: “I do not know whether it was a decision at the top level or not. But I know that in Punjab the army men had put blockade during the counting. Even the contesting candidates were not allowed when the consolidated counting process was going on. I don’t know if it was a decision from the top or General Kayani, but in Punjab everyone knows Brigadier Ranjha was supervising that job for the PML-N. Brigadier Ranjha was then rewarded for that and appointed the DG of the ACE.”
Retired Brig Ranjha wondered how the “irresponsible man” could hurl allegations against the army without any evidence. “I tell him that the army is an institution and a brigadier is no one to run affairs on his own,” he said, asking Mr Khan to stop maligning the institution of the army.
“After the judicial commission’s report, Mr Khan has no justification for levelling serious allegations against any institution or individual in this regard. It is a shameful act on his part,” he said.
The three-member judicial commission in July 2015 had concluded in its report that the 2013 elections had in large part been “organised and conducted fairly and in accordance with the law”. The commission had reached the conclusion based on evidence.
The PTI chief also said in the interview that Nawaz Sharif’s entire political career had grown under the army. “Nawaz has grown under Gen Zia’s ideology. He was always supported by media, judiciary and military establishment.
However, I have found General Bajwa as the most pro-democratic and neutral army chief. The problem is that when he has not supported Nawaz Sharif for his wrongdoings, he has been declared anti-Nawaz Sharif. That’s his (Sharif) mindset that whoever is not with him is against him,” he said.
Mr Khan’s remarks on the army’s alleged involvement in the electoral process have taken many by surprise, some even in his own party.
When asked whether the PTI chief’s remarks would open a Pandora’s box, PTI information secretary Fawad Chaudhry said: “There is nothing new in Mr Khan’s statement as it reflected the PTI’s stance after the 2013 elections. We have provided evidence of rigging and also the role of then MI Punjab chief (Ranjha) as a PML-N facilitator. Mr Ranjha is the uncle of PML-N MNA Mohsin Ranjha.”
Mr Chaudhry dispelled the impression that Mr Khan’s remarks had anything to do with maligning of the institution of the army or they might create any misunderstanding.
Published in Dawn, May 5th, 2018