Pakistan: Imran Khan says former Army chief Bajwa was real man in power

The former prime minister says Bajwa provided relief to PM Shahbaz Sharif in a mega money laundering case


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Imran Khan. — AP file
Imran Khan. — AP file

Published: Sat 17 Dec 2022, 2:04 AM

Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran Khan said on Friday that he was "completely helpless" as the premier as the "real man in power" was former army chief Gen (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa, who called all the shots.

Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has been targeting Gen Bajwa and some senior ISI officers ever since his ouster from power in April by a no-confidence motion.

“Gen Bajwa (who retired last month) was the real man in power. He was controlling the national anti-graft body (National Accountability Bureau). He decided which politician should be sent to jail," he said.

"NAB would tell me that the cases against thieves — Sharifs and Zardaris — were matured but it was not allowed by Gen Bajwa to take them to the logical end,” Khan said while addressing his party’s lawyers’ wing via video link from his Lahore residence.

Khan, 70, talked about how Bajwa provided relief to the incumbent Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in a mega money laundering case in which his conviction was certain if it had proceeded on merit.

“The Federal Investigation Agency’s multi-billion dollar case against Shahbaz Sharif and his sons — Hamza and Suleman — was open and shut but Gen Bajwa came to their rescue and I being prime minister was completely helpless,” Khan said in his latest attack on the former army chief.

He accused Bajwa of causing more damage to the country than an enemy could have done in his address to the nation from his Lahore residence on Wednesday.

Early this month, Khan accused Bajwa of playing a “double game” against his government and said that he committed a “big mistake” by extending the tenure of the then military chief in 2019.

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.

In his farewell address last week, General Bajwa 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.

Khan, who is recovering from the bullet wounds he received during a Wazirabad rally on November 3, depicted a bleak picture of the country’s economy, saying over 700,000 people mostly educated ones left Pakistan after his government was toppled.

“Such people have lost confidence in the system and see no hope,” he said.

Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.

The former cricketer-turned-politician, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament.

He 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.

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