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Saturday April 13, 2024

Campaign against Imran: Bajwa, Faiz reject Fazl’s claim no-trust motion launched at their behest

Denying Fazl’s claim, sources say JUIF chief should first correct his facts as Gen Faiz had left ISI months before no-confidence was moved

By Ansar Abbasi & Asim Yasin & Mohammad Anis
February 16, 2024
The then-ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed (left) PM Imran Khan (center) Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa (right) enter ISI headquarters on May 24, 2021. — PMO
The then-ISI chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed (left) PM Imran Khan (center) Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa (right) enter ISI headquarters on May 24, 2021. — PMO

ISLAMABAD: Sources close to former Army Chief Gen (R) Qamar Javed Bajwa and ex-DGISI Lt Gen (R) Faiz Hameed on Thursday categorically denied JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s statement that the no-confidence against Imran Khan government was moved at the behest of Bajwa.

Moulana, in an interview with a TV channel earlier in the day, said both Bajwa and Faiz were engaged with the then-opposition to make the no-confidence motion successful.

Denying Maulana Fazl’s claim, sources close to the former army chief and the ex-spymaster said that the JUIF chief should first correct his facts as Gen Faiz had left the ISI months before the no-confidence was moved.

“Maulana Sahib is forgetting that Gen Faiz was Corps Commander Peshawar when no-confidence against Imran khan was moved,” a source said, adding Gen Faiz had moved out of Islamabad in November 2021.

According to a source close to Gen Bajwa, the former army chief had met Maulana only twice. First, Maulana met the then army chief at latter’s official residence during former’s long march against Imran Khan government. The said meeting, it is said, was unpleasant. Second, on March 26, 2022, Gen Bajwa and and another top general had met the then opposition leaders including Shehbaz Sharif, Bilawal Bhutto, Moulana Fazlur Rehman, Shahzain Bugti, Akhtar Mengal and Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui.

According to the source, the two top generals had met the opposition leaders on the direction of the then Prime Minister Imran Khan, who wanted to get the no confidence withdrawn against him.

The source, close to Bajwa said that both generals had pressed the opposition leaders to let the Imran Khan government complete its tenure. When, the source said, the opposition leaders did now show willingness to relent, they were asked to withdraw the no confidence motion and in return, Imran Khan can announce elections.

It is said that these generals were invited by Imran Khan to discuss options to save his government from no-confidence. Different options were discussed in their meeting with the PM in the presence of some of his key ministers. In the same meeting, the generals were asked to approach the opposition to save the government from no-confidence.

The source, quoting Gen Bajwa, said the former army chief is willing to deny Maulana’s statement under oath and expects the same from Maulana to get to the truth.

Earlier in the day, JUIF chief Fazlur Rehman pointed a finger at Gen Bajwa and Lt. Gen Faiz Hameed for toppling the PTI government through a no-confidence motion.

Speaking in a TV programme, Fazl said the leaders of all parties, including PPP and PMLN, were called in presence of Gen Bajwa and Faiz Hameed who told them how to move ahead with the no-confidence motion. “Do not name just PPP and PMLN; all the parties present there,” he said.

He replied in ‘Yes’ when the host asked whether Bajwa and Faiz led the move and the parties against Imran just stamped their decision. He said it was Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) which initially ran a no-confidence move against Imran when Faiz Hameed himself came to meet him.

“Faiz Hameed told me to act within the system and nothing will be done outside the system but I refused,” Fazl claimed.

The JUI-F chief responded in the affirmative when the host asked whether Faiz Hameed was referring to the no-confidence motion. Fazl said in the first instance, he refused but had to agree when MQM, BAP and other groups started joining the PPP and PMLN for no-confidence. “Had I refused after that, I could have been blamed for saving Imran Khan regime,” he said.

Fazl said personally he was not in favour of no-confidence motion against Imran Khan government rather he wanted that a movement should be run against the then regime.

The JUI-F chief said he sacrificed his stance on the no-confidence motion only to keep the then opposition parties united.

“Everyone knows that I used to express my views in opposition parties’ meetings,” he said.

Fazl said apparently it was the PML-N which benefitted from the rigged elections in which mandate had been stolen all over the country.

To a question, he said there was an impression that Nawaz Sharif was granted the National Assembly seat in Lahore.

“Now, it is up to him to show greatness and decide about keeping or not that seat,” he said.

Fazl said he’d proposed Shehbaz Sharif sit on the opposition benches when he came to meet him, adding, “But he left without giving any response.

Fazl, however, clarified that meeting the military establishment is not wrong as they are not generals from India, but, he added, problem lies in that they (generals) take tough stand on their terms. “We should also take our tough stance and tell them they are wrong,” he said.

Talking about the plan of action, Fazl said they would take to the streets to register peaceful protest. “We will continue our struggle and protest till the establishment withdraws itself from politics,” he added.

Fazl said he could not say immediately with certainty about future relationship with PTI as there is a history of bitter relations with PTI leadership. “It is not so easy to squeeze distances but we can end differences through talks,” he said, adding that it would also be seen whether PTI wanted JUIF cooperation against rigging or for the government.

At the same time, the JUIF leader said, “We also feel that we were target of rigging to benefit them.”

The JUIF chief said that there would be no future of Parliament and assemblies and there would be economic and political instability all around. “Various political parties are holding protest demonstrations across the country and we will also do the same after consulting party’s general councils,” he said.

Asked as to how Shehbaz Sharif was raised as candidate for the prime minister, the JUIF chief said that he was not party to this consultation, saying that he had taken a stance that his members would sit in Parliament with reservations.

Meanwhile, in a turn-up for the books, a PTI delegation met Fazl late Thursday night at his residence on Imran’s direction.

“We were unanimous on views that there was a massive rigging in elections and the results were changed,” Barrister Saif told newsmen after the meeting adding that they would move forward with consultations. The meeting came as a surprise to the nation, as both Imran and Fazl used to level serious allegations against each.

It is on record that Fazl on many an occasion accused Imran of toeing the Jewish lobby’s agenda. The sources said Imran green-lighted his party leaders to contact the other parties, including the JUI-F, on the issue of rigging.

The PTI delegation comprised Asad Qaiser, Aamir Dogar, Umair Niazi, Barrister Saif and Fazal Muhammad Khan. The JUI-F side comprised Senator Talha Mahmood, Engineer Ziaul Rehman, Aslam Ghori, Sahibzada Asjad Mahmood, Hafiz Hamdullah and Mufti Rozi Khan.

Hafiz Hamdullah of JUI-F told newsmen that Imran Khan sent his party’s delegation to meet Maulana Fazlur Rehman and other leaders.

“They officially contacted the JUI-F for the meeting,” he said.

He said the two sides discussed the election results and categorically rejected the outcome.

“Both sides in presence of Maulana Fazlur Rehman were unanimous on the view that 2024 polls were not fair or transparent,” he said.

Barrister Saif told newsmen that the PTI had started consulting all the political parties on the issue of rigged polls.

“We will stage a protest demonstrations on February 17 and will continue struggle till getting our rightful mandate,” he said.

Supporting Fazl’s allegations against General Bajwa and Faiz Hameed, JUI-F leader Rashid Soomro said Fazl was PDM president but it was not formed at time of no-confidence.

He was speaking in Geo Television programme ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath’.

Asked if Fazl had also exposed himself as part of no-confidence move against Imran, Soomro said those who benefited from the no-confidence were now ‘Ladlas’ and who opposed the move was struggling to get back the stolen mandate.

“It should be on record that the PDM was created after rigging in 2018 polls and not at the time when the no-confidence motion was being planned,” he added.

Meanwhile, the PMLN and the PPP reacted to Fazl’s claims. PML-N spokesperson Marriyum Aurangzeb Thursday said she didn’t witness anything like former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa’s orders behind the ouster of PTI founder Imran Khan.

Marriyum, who was a key figure in the PDM-led government, said the multi-party coalition had moved the no-confidence motion against Imran in a completely constitutional manner.

“The statement made by Maulana Fazlur Rahman can be explained by himself,” she said in Geo News’ show “Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada kay Sath”.

Marriyum further said she could comment on the matter on PML-N’s behalf tomorrow.

“I don’t see any alliance of the Maulana [Fazl], I know with PTI,” she added.

PPP Secretary Information Faisal Karim Kundi said the PTI and JUI-F buried their own narrative adding, “Let’s see when PTI founder Imran Khan and Maulana Fazlur Rehman apologise to each other.”

“It is the law of nature that everything goes back to its origin,” he said in a reaction to Fazl’s interview to a private TV channel and the PTI-JUI-F meeting.

He said Fazlur Rehman lost in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but a hue and cry was being made in Sindh.

He said Fazlur Rehman should tell the nation on whose request the sit-in was started and on whose orders it ended.

Kundi said according to Fazlur Rehman, no-confidence against the PTI government was brought at the behest of generals but Maulana should also tell as to who benefitted the most after the end of the government. “Also, tell the truth about who committed corruption in which department and loot of state resources,” he said.

Faisal Karim Kundi said if Maulana’s son had won from Tank, he would have said, “Let the system continue; we will be allies of the government. Since his son is not yet in the assembly, Maulana is getting angry,” he said.