A little-known political party has put up banners in 13 Pakistani cities urging Army chief General Raheel Sharif to impose martial law and form a government of technocrats.
The banners have been unveiled in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta, Rawalpindi, Faisalabad, Sargodha and Hyderabad among other cities, media reports said on Tuesday.
According to Dawn, the “Move on Pakistan” party, which is behind the banners, earlier ran a campaign requesting the army chief to reconsider his retirement plan due in November.
A banner hung at a prominent traffic intersection in Karachi reads: “Janay ki baatain hui puraani, Khuda ke liye ab ajao” (Talk of leaving is old; for God’s sake, now come).
Ali Hashmi, the central chief organiser of the party, told Dawn that the party wanted the army chief to impose martial law and then form a government of technocrats to run Pakistan.
Gen Raheel Sharif should himself supervise such a government, Hashmi was quoted as saying.
While the army’s official mouthpiece – the Inter-Services Public Relations – remained silent, analyst Amir Rana was quoted as saying that the latest development strengthened the view that “something was cooking”.
Dawn said that the banners sprang up overnight on all major thoroughfares in the 13 cities, including Cantonment areas, despite the presence of several checkpoints and extra security.
Hashmi claimed that his party’s banners were removed in Lahore and Faisalabad on Tuesday morning.
Dawn said the Move on Pakistan party – which has little grassroot support – had been registered with the Election Commission of Pakistan for the past three years.
A Faisalabad-based businessman, Mohammad Kamran, is its chairman. He runs a number of schools and businesses in Faisalabad, Sargodha and Lahore.
The party came into the spotlight in February when it put up posters and banners across the country asking the army chief not to retire and “help in eradicating terrorism and corruption”.
Though the party said five months ago that it was not inviting the army to take over, this time it said “there is no choice but to enforce martial law and form a government of technocrats”.
Hashmi said the absence of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from the country for more than 40 days proved there was no need of a political government. “Those who have been running the country will keep running it.”
He added: “We are considering holding rallies from Faisalabad to Lahore and Karachi to Sukkur in the second phase to convince the army chief that he should intervene for the betterment of the country and nation.”
Minister of State for Privatisation Mohammad Zubair said only legal experts could say what action can be taken against those putting up such banners and posters.