Opening up about Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retired from the post of Pakistan’s Army chief recently, for the first time, former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said, in an interview to a Pakistani news channel, exclusively accessed by CNN-News18, that his decision to extend Bajwa’s tenure was a “mistake”, Khan admitted that trusting Bajwa proved to be his greatest weakness.
Bajwa’s claim of neutrality was absolutely wrong, he said, revealing that Bajwa started a meeting with the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) after getting an extension.
Khan said, “Never before have I seen a man playing double games with everyone like Bajwa did."
“We received different signals… they claimed to be neutral and assured they wanted continuity, while in the background a conspiracy was happening. It was a mistake to give an extension to Bajwa,” he said.
Khan said extensions should not be given in the military, but “the situation was otherwise and we had no option”.
He also said that a message has been sent to the new military establishment and President Arif Alvi has also delivered their message. “What happened in the past seven months? Did the party crash? Today we have support that no party ever held in history. Even Bhutto didn’t have the support we have today,” he claimed.
‘GIVE DATE FOR ELECTIONS’
Khan on Friday warned that he will dissolve the assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces ruled by his party if the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif does not sit down for talks and announce dates for the general elections.
Khan, 70, the chief of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), last week announced that his lawmakers will resign from the provincial assemblies as he withdrew a threat to march on the capital Islamabad by saying that it would result in destruction.
During a speech to the Punjab Parliamentary Party on Friday, Khan said: “Considering all this, I have decided that either this will happen that they sit with us [and decide a date for the polls or] imagine that there will be an election in almost 66 per cent of Pakistan — in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab — if we dissolve the assemblies.” “All these sitting 12-13 parties of the PDM will be taken out in the elections so, then the government will be frozen [if we dissolve the assemblies],” the former premier said.
He reiterated that “either they can sit with us and talk, give us a date for the general elections […] or else we will dissolve our assemblies.”
Khan’s PTI is in power in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan provinces. However, the party is yet to announce a date for the dissolution of assemblies in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The federal government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N)-led coalition has threatened to impose Governor’s rule in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces. Interior Minister Rana Sanullah, however, offered a cautious welcome to Khan’s offer for talks. “When politicians sit tighter, issues are sorted out," Sanullah said. “Khan used to say that it is better for me to die than sitting with the government for talks. There is change in him. Our government always believes in talks," he added.
Khan, the former cricketer-turned-politician, who was ousted as prime minister in April this year after a no-confidence motion was passed in the National Assembly, is seeking fresh general elections in Pakistan.
The term of the current National Assembly will end in August 2023.
With PTI Inputs
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