Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan Monday claimed that former chief of army staff General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa was very close to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
“The plan was to bring Shehbaz Sharif [into power] and remove me,” the deposed prime minister said. He was speaking in an interview with a private news channel.
Khan, who was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April last year, has made multiple claims about his government’s removal. He had since spoken about foreign conspiracies, allegedly instigated by the United States, with claims of connivance on the now ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) coalition in the Centre and Gen (retd) Bajwa — who retired as the head of the military on November 29, 2022.
Slamming the ex-army chief for, what he claims, favouring the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Khan said: “Ishaq Dar, Nawaz Sharif’s sons and Shehbaz Sharif’s son-in-law flee during his tenure. In the beginning, there were a lot of doubts, we couldn’t understand.”
The former prime minister went on to say that "Gen Bajwa would say one thing and another was happening on the ground". He added that while the former army chief claimed to remain neutral, the agencies were creating divisions within his party.
“This plan was made in the summer of 2021, after which the work on it began,” he said, repeating his claim of Gen Bajwa hiring Pakistan’s former ambassador to the US Husain Haqqani for lobbying in America during Khan’s government.
A day earlier, the PTI chief said that Haqqani launched a campaign against him and had been promoting the former army chief in the US. He also alleged that the matter regarding Donald Lu, the assistant secretary of state for the South and Central Asian region, began in 2021.
Following his government’s ouster, the PTI chairman made claims of a threat letter linking it to his removal from the PM office. Lu, according to Khan, was the diplomat involved in sending the letter. The former prime minister later signalled the desire to mend ties with the US through cooperation with Washington in the future.
In his interview today, Imran Khan said that during the time rumours were spread regarding his desire to appoint former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief General (retd) Faiz Hameed as the next COAS.
“In the summer of 2021, I didn’t even think about who would be the army chief next year. As you gradually watch, you understand that there was an entire plan behind it,” he said, reasoning how the matter and steps taken for his removal.
Commenting on the establishment’s influence in the country’s politics, particularly in relation to his dismissal as the prime minister, Khan said: “BAP [Balochistan Awami Party] and the MQM [Muttahida Qaumi Movement] was controlled by the establishment. How they were pushed.”
The former premier revealed that he finally found out the establishment’s plan against his government.
“General Bajwa changed his stance soon after he got the extension. After the extension in his tenure, he brought together all parties in parliament. He specially took the PML-N onboard,” Khan said, alleging how understanding between the party and the establishment developed.
The PTI chief also said that while he insisted on accountability, the establishment backtracked from all their cases. “Ninety-five per cent of the cases [against PML-N] were from his [Gen Bajwa] time.”
A day earlier, Imran Khan said, “The MQM factions are being united and Balochistan Awami Party (BAP) leaders are included in the PPP (to counter the PTI in the next election).”
Stressing the need for free and fair elections, the PTI chairman said that transparent polls will bring stability to the country. He also slammed the “game of audio leaks” in the country.
Expressing severe concerns over the country’s judicial system, Imran Khan said that the system does not protect people's fundamental rights.
The former prime minister lambasted the justice system, saying that being an ex-premier he could not lodge his FIR of an assassination attempt on him. “My party is in power in Punjab but the provincial police could not register my FIR.”
It is clear that “they” prepared a plan to kill him, the PTI chief said, adding that things in this regard will come to the fore in the next two to four days.
“No place left for you when the state turns against you and all of its powers start utilising against you,” Khan said while referring to the cases lodged against him and his party leadership.
He added that they were subjected to all kinds of oppression, adding that he felt that he was an "enemy of the country or a traitor".
Slamming the establishment yet again, the PTI leader said that after FIRs, audio leaks started surfacing. “Who was taping the secure phone line of the prime minister? It is a violation of the official secret act,” he added.
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