Chief Minister of Punjab Chaudhry Pervez Elahi Sunday disclosed that the former chief of army staff (COAS) General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa asked the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) to back Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) when the vote of no confidence was moved against ex-prime minister Imran Khan in April.
CM Punjab's statement comes after his son and PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi spoke about Gen (retd) Bajwa advising their party to support Khan.
In the run-up to the no-confidence motion, the Punjab chief minister said that both PTI and Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) made offers to PML-Q; however, the party supported the former on General (retd) Bajwa's advice.
CM Elahi, in an interview with a private TV channel, endorsed a claim made by Moonis about the former COAS and said: "God changed our path at the last moment when they were heading towards PML-N and sent Gen (retd) Bajwa to show us the way."
He maintained that Gen (retd) Bajwa advised them that the path towards the Khan-led party is better for them.
Responding to a question, Elahi said that he received offers from both camps — PTI and PDM — but in line with the advice of the former army chief, his party preferred to choose Khan.
The chief minister maintained that his son Moonis also suggested siding with the PTI.
Commenting on his past experience with the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, CM Elahi said that there were always apprehensions about the Sharifs “lying”.
“I was with the Sharifs for 18 years, they always lied to us. I would [often] say the Sharifs won’t let me do anything for the province,” he said recalling his discussion with the “institution” on whom to support following the no-confidence motion.
“When we discussed with the institution, they suggested thinking about what was better for us. We consult the institution when a situation arises,” Elahi said, adding that the institution told them that choosing PTI was a “respectable and better option”.
He maintained that it was the institution’s kindness for guiding the PML-Q.
The chief minister asserted that his party has always supported all the chiefs of the institution and never gave a statement against them.
Responding to whether PML-Q’s supremo Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has had similar encounters with the institution, Elahi said that he has not had any conversation with General (retd) Bajwa.
Punjab’s chief minister further said that neither the PTI chief nor the ex-army chief has played a “double game”.
“Circumstances and events leave one in such a place that no way is left to take a decision. The decision could be right or wrong,” he said highlighting that both the PML-Q and Khan’s decision was right.
In response to his stern statement about Khan's close relations with the establishment, he expressed: "The thing is, I made the 'nappy' remark in anger. It damaged me as well."
A day earlier, for the first time since spending three and a half years with former chief of army staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the PTI chief said: "Giving extension to him [Gen Bajwa] was my biggest mistake."
“I would trust whatever ex-COAS General Bajwa said. I would tell him that both of us are [thinking about] the country; our purpose is one — to save the country,” Khan added.
The former prime minister added that he didn’t know how he was being lied to and betrayed.
“I knew during the last days and also received a report from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about a game being played,” Khan said, adding that his informant from the IB would notify him verbally and not in writing following fears.
Accusing the ex-army chief of betrayal, Khan said that whenever he asked Bajwa about the conspiracy, he replied that they want continuity.
The former prime minister said that he complained to Bajwa that his allies were hinting that the army is forcing them to change their loyalty and you are saying that forces are "neutral".
He revealed that leaders from MQM-P and other parties had also told them about the ex-COAS Gen Bajwa’s role.
“We were astonished that they were telling me something else and we were getting other signals from there [allies],” Khan said.
PM Shehbaz Sharif castigated PTI Chairman Khan for aiming to seek power even if it means undermining the country's foundations.
"Imran’s recent diatribe against parliamentary democracy is the latest in a series of attacks that fly in the face of how democracy functions in modern nation-states," the premier said in a tweet.
PM Shehbaz believes that his politics' sole aim was coming back into power through any means necessary.
"His (Khan's) politics is aimed at making his way to power even if it means undermining foundations this country stands on," the prime minister expressed.
Commenting on Khan deeming the extension to former chief of army staff a “big mistake”, Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique, earlier today asked: “If giving the extension was a mistake, then why was it offered again?”
"I have never disrespected the institutions of the country," says PTI leader
PML-N leader reveals he tendered his resignation on January 3
Government slaps Rs25,000 fine on school, directs to pay medical bills for child's treatment
High court reserved verdict on January 11; ECP maintains cannot overturn earlier ruling
"I am not in power anymore. Had I been in govt, then I would have been answerable," says former PM
Fawad was arrested from his Lahore residence in January after he publicly "threatened" ECP members, their families