Islamabad: Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran Khan has accused former army chief Gen (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa of playing “double game” against his government and said that he committed a “big mistake” by extending the tenure of then military chief in 2019.
Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, made the comments during an interview with a local TV channel on Saturday where he also regretted that he put his trust in the then army chief Gen (retd.) Bajwa.
“I would believe in everything General Bajwa would tell me because our interests were the same that we had to save the country,” said 70-year-old Khan, who was ousted from power through a no-confidence motion in April this year.
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, who is considered as an expert of using any situation in his favour, exploited the statement of Elahi and said it showed that General 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.
Gen Bajwa, 61, retired on November 29 after getting a three-year extension in 2019 by the then Prime Minister 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, General 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.
Since Pakistan was created 75 years ago, the Army has seized power three times and directly ruled the country for almost four decades.
In reply to another question, Khan said a new military set-up had emerged and he wanted to give some time to get themselves settled.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday lashed out at Khan for aiming to seek power even if it meant 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.
Khan’s “politics is aimed at making his way to power even if it means undermining foundations this country stands on,” the prime minister said.
During the interview to Bol News, Khan also said that if the government is ready for elections by the end of March, then his party won’t dissolve the assemblies. “Otherwise, we want to conduct polls by dissolving the KP and Punjab assemblies,” he added.
Khan, the former cricketer-turned-politician, is the only Pakistani prime minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
He had alleged that the no-confidence vote was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan. The US has denied the allegations.