Monday, Dec 05, 2022

Pakistan: Ex-PM Imran Khan Accuses Ex-Army Chief General Bajwa Of 'Double Game' Against Him

Pakistan: Ex-PM Imran Khan Accuses Ex-Army Chief General Bajwa Of 'Double Game' Against Him

Former Pakistani Prime Minister said former Pakistani Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa was in contact with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif to topple his government.

Former Pakistan Imran Khan
Former Pakistan Imran Khan AP

In his latest accusation on Pakistan Army, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said recently-retired Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa played "double game" against his government when he was in office.

Bajwa was given an extension of three years in 2019 and Khan described it as a "big mistake".

Khan also claimed that Bajwa was in contact with Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif to topple his government. 

"I would believe in everything General Bajwa would tell me because our interests were the same… that we had to save the country," said Khan, who was ousted from power through a no-confidence motion in April this year. Ever since his ouster, Khan has been attacking state organs, including the all-powerful Pakistani Army which has been in power for four decades in Pakistan.

Khan also claimed that he received reports from Intelligence Bureau (IB) on "what games were being played against his government". He claimed that then military establishment was in contact with the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz supremo Nawaz Sharif to topple his government and the plot against him became clear following the removal of Lt Gen (retd.) Faiz Hameed as ISI chief in October 2021.

"Whenever I asked General Bajwa (about change of government), he would say it was not possible. He said, ‘We want continuity’….I sent finance minister Shaukat Tarin who briefed them (establishment) for two hours about the perils of the fall of his government…He was also assured that don’t worry because ‘we want continuity,’" Khan claimed.  

Khan said the then army chief was cutting deals with the then opposition parties while assuring him of political support. His remarks came days after Moonis Elahi of Pakistan Muslim League- Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) said in a TV interview that Bajwa asked him to vote for Khan on the no-confidence motion. His remarks were used by the government to blast Khan's allegation that the establishment orchestrated his downfall.

But Khan exploited the statement of Elahi and said it showed that Bajwa was playing on both sides.

"Gen Bajwa was playing a double game and I discovered later that even PTI’s members were being given different messages,” he claimed.

Bajwa, 61, retired on November 29 after getting a three-year extension in 2019 by the then-PM Khan, who turned out to be the biggest critic of the Pakistan Army. Nawaz Sharif, who was disqualified and imprisoned when Bajwa was the army chief, has also criticized him by name at public rallies on a couple of occasions.

In his farewell address last week, Bajwa had said that his decision to keep the military establishment "apolitical" will shield it from the "vagaries of politics" in the coup-prone country.

Following his assassination attempt last month, Khan accused Pakistani Army's Major General Faisal Naseer of trying to get him killed along with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.  

In October, after continued criticism by Khan and his supporters, the Pakistani military and the intelligence agency ISI held an unprecedented press conference. They said Khan had asked Bajwa to do "illegal" acts when he was in power. ISI chief Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum further said that Bajwa was given a "lucrative offer" in March by Khan's government amidst the political turmoil at the time. 

"(Khan's criticism) is because the military and its chief refused to do illegal or unconstitutional things," Anjum said, as per Reuters, and added that the military had made a policy decision to stay out of politics, and hence turned down Khan's persistent requests.

"It [the lucrative offer] was made in front of me. He [Bajwa] rejected it because he wanted the institution to move forward from a controversial role to a constitutional role," said Anjum.

Following Khan's allegation that a top Army officer along with Sharif and Sanaullah was involved in his assassination attempt, the Pakistani Army said the allegations were baseless and irresponsible.

The Army said, "The baseless and irresponsible allegations by chairman PTI against the institution and particularly a senior army officer are absolutely unacceptable and uncalled for. The baseless allegations hurled at the institution/officials today are highly regrettable and strongly condemned.

"No one will be allowed to defame the institution or its soldiers with impunity. Keeping this in view, the government of Pakistan has been requested to investigate the matter and initiate legal action against those responsible for defamation and false accusations against the institution and its officials without any evidence whatsoever."

(With PTI inputs)