Imran Khan says he was sure that new military leadership had realised that ‘experiment of regime change’ had gone wrong
Blames the ‘negligence’ of Pakistan’s security forces & intelligence agencies for the rising incidents of terrorism in the country
There was no one to keep a check on the kind of power General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa possessed: Imran Khan
Says even the National Accountability Bureau was in Gen Bajwa’s hands
Says General Bajwa could do whatever he wanted and there was no criticism allowed of him
Says he was ‘fully preparing’ for the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’
LAHORE ( Web News )
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Sunday claimed he was made the “punching bag” and was on the receiving end of criticism for his government’s performance despite the fact that ex-army chief retired General Qamar Javed Bajwa was the “super king” behind all decisions.
In a televised address on Sunday, former premier Imran Khan talked at length about the former chief of army staff (COAS), saying that the PTI government used to take decisions after seeking his formal approval.
“However, when I used to press for accountability of the corrupt, no one listened,” he said. “Even the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was in Gen Bajwa’s hands.”
Imran Khan lamented that there was no one to keep a check on the kind of power Gen Bajwa possessed. “That kind of power went unchecked. I was criticised all the time. I was the punching bag while all the power resided with Gen Bajwa.”
The PTI chief claimed that incumbent Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif was Gen Bajwa’s “favourite”. “We couldn’t do anything with the cases against Shehbaz. They (establishment) had decided that he will be made the prime minister.”
Imran Khan said it was imperative that whoever possessed the authority take responsibility and be answerable for their actions. “Whenever my government made a good decision, General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa claimed it. But I took the fall when the decisions proved to be bad.”
The ex-PM pointed out that if one person unilaterally decided for the whole country behind closed doors, then the current crisis the country was facing was inevitable.
“What we are suffering today is all because of that,” he said. “If criticism was allowed against Gen Bajwa, the country wouldn’t be in the state it is in.”
Imran Khan said General Bajwa could do whatever he wanted and there was no criticism allowed of him. “Whenever there was criticism of him, journalists had to run away. Even Moeed Pirzada is still out of the country.”
Imran Khan questioned General Bajwa’s knowledge about economics, expressing surprise over the retired general’s remarks to journalist Javed Chaudhry.
In the column, the ex-army chief said his “crime” was not stepping in to save Imran’s government. He was also quoted as saying that “these people (the PTI) were dangerous for the country”.
“Gen Bajwa had said the economy was messed up and America was not happy with Imran Khan,” the PTI chief said, remarking that the ex-COAS portrayed himself to be an expert on the economy, foreign policy and politics.
“What does he even know about economics?” Imran asked. “Gen Bajwa was convincing me to replace the then-Punjab chief minister with a landgrabber.”
At the same time, Imran Khan also acknowledged that Bajwa stood with the PTI government and supported its policies when the coronavirus pandemic was raging on.
“Gen Bajwa supported us on this,” he said. “There were more things he lent support for, such as during the polio and locust crises.”
During the address, Imran Khan also said he was “fully preparing” for the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest drive). “I’m happy that people are registering for it,” he said. “I will soon announce when it will begin.”
Towards the end of his address, Imran Khan told the country’s youth who were thinking to leave the country that there was no place to run to.
“The nations that don’t fight for independence, never achieve it,” he concluded. “The chains do not come off themselves but they have to be broken.”
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan has blamed the “negligence” of Pakistan’s security forces and intelligence agencies for the rising incidents of terrorism in the country.
In an interview with “Voice of America English” aired on Saturday (Feb 11), Imran Khan spoke on the recent criticism surrounding the PTI government’s decision to negotiate with the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) before it was ousted.
He was responding to a question by the host, who asked him if he still “stands by” the decision to greenlight the talks.
“One of the reasons that terrorism has spiked in Pakistan is because, according to the National Counterterrorism Authority, the time that was taken for negotiations with TTP was used by that group to reorganise. Those talks started when you were in power. Do you stand by your decision to greenlight those talks,” correspondent “Sarah Zaman” asked.
“Well, firstly, what were the choices [the] Pakistani government faced once the Taliban took over and they decided the TTP, and we’re talking about 30, [30,000] to 40,000 people, you know, the families included, once they decided to send them back to Pakistan? Should we have just lined them up and shot them, or should we have tried to work with them to resettle them,” Imran Khan replied.
He went on to say that his government had had a meeting at that time and the idea behind that was resettlement with the “concurrence of politicians all along the border”, the erstwhile FATA region, security forces and the TTP.
“But that never happened because our government left and once our government was removed, the new government took its eye off the ball,” he said.
The former premier stated that it was possible for the TTP to regroup and then questioned: “But then where were the Pakistani security forces? Where were the intelligence agencies? Could they not see them regrouping?
“How could we be held responsible for their negligence,” the PTI chief asked.
The PTI chief, while talking about Pakistan’s foreign policy and the relationship with the Afghan Taliban, stressed that the country had to somehow get Kabul to “work with us again” and jointly deal with the issue of terrorism.
“I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but do we want a repeat of what happened to Pakistan from 2005 onwards to 2015, where Pakistan was going under, suffering from terrorism all along the Afghan border? I think we are not in a position to have another war on terror,” he said.
Imran Khan further said that whatever government was functioning in Afghanistan, it was important for Pakistan to have a good relationship with them. He recalled that he tried his best with the government of former Afghan president Ashraf Ghani.
“Our interest is that having a good relationship with the government in Kabul means that we have a 2,500-kilometer border with them. This means that if there are problems of terrorism, then they will help us.”
Imran Khan also criticised incumbent Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, saying that he had not even paid a single visit to Afghanistan yet.
Talking about his relationship with former army chief retired General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the ex-premier said that his government and the military were on the “same page”, which meant that “we had the organised strength of Pakistan army to help us”.
“We worked together, and you know, Pakistan was considered one of the success stories of Covid-19.”
However, Imran Khan contended that General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa “favoured some of the biggest crooks in the country” and didn’t think about corruption as a big problem.
“He wanted us to work with them. What that meant [was] giving them immunity from their corruption cases,” he claimed, adding that Gen Bajwa has a “very close” relationship with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. “And, for some reason, he conspired, and this regime change took place.”
Imran Khan added that the leading principle of the balance of power was that the elected government must also have the authority. “You cannot separate responsibility and authority. So, if the authority lies with the army chief, [but] responsibility lies with the prime minister, no management system works,” he pointed out.
In response to another question, Imran Khan said that he was sure that the new military leadership had realised that the “experiment of regime change” had gone wrong.