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Sunday, June 26, 2022

Imran Khan takes aim at former mentor, Pak Army Chief Bajwa

Pakistan’s belligerent ousted former Prime Minister Imran Khan has stepped his attack on the Pakistani Army leadership. Irked by the military establishment’s repeated statement that there was no US conspiracy against Imran Khan’s removal, the former premier castigated the spokesperson of the Pakistani Army.

“The DG ISPR has no business to comment. Will DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) decide if there was any conspiracy or not. It can be DG ISPR Major General Iftikhar Babar’s personal view, but he cannot pass the judgment,” Pakistani media quoted Imran Khan as saying.

The DG of ISPR, a propaganda wing of the Pakistani military establishment, has rejected a conspiracy claim made by Khan, who insists he was ousted from the top office through a US-backed manoeuvre with the help of few of Pakistan’s corrupt politicians.

“I did not give a political statement. It was a clarification on behalf of the service chiefs of Pakistan. On behalf of the service chiefs, I can tell you, on the basis of facts, that there was no conspiracy,” Major General Babar Iftikhar, DG ISPR told HUM news TV.

He said that the army has to issue clarification repeatedly as the former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party leaders are repeatedly trying to drag the military leadership into their own “cooked” conspiracy theories. The Pakistani military establishment said it has no reservation about the formation of a judicial commission on the conspiracy claim, and the military and intelligence institutions would provide complete assistance to the government in whatever forum it decided to take the matter to its logical conclusion.

But Khan, the cricketer-turned politician has turned against his mentor, the Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, by challenging his authority openly. In his recent tirade, Khan said that the Pakistan President is the Supreme Commander of the Pakistani “fauj” (army) and has written to the Pakistan Chief Justice to set up a commission and find answers to these questions.

“The rule of law in the country is over. One institution that has survived is the judiciary which is in danger, Pakistan is on its way to become Sri Lanka.”

“There is no government in the centre as the criminal mafia is ruling the roost and as a result, the people are suffering the most,” Imran Khan said while addressing his supporters in Rawalpindi recently.

Khan and his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has launched a campaign against General Bajwa with the trending hashtag #GoBajwaGo on Twitter. Many handles affiliated to Imran Khan’s PTI have been leading the charge.

“Will the DG of thieves decide whether there was a conspiracy or not? In the past, these corrupt generals used to come in contact with corrupt politicians like themselves and because of their corruption, they used to control them and silence them,” wrote one handle.

“@OfficialDGISPR #DGISPR #GoBajwaGo. Bajwa must resign and he has become a liability for not only the army but the country. He played too much politics from sending NS to London, Maryam on bail, avoiding SS, HS & Rana conviction, destroying Faiz Hameed’s career and toppling IK govt,” said another Imran Khan supporter.

Despite the warning by the military establishment that the army and its leadership should not be dragged into his “political” agenda, Imran khan has been begging, coaxing and threatening the military establishment to intervene since the last two months to save him from being ousted from power. The same establishment who had brought him to power in 2018 after massively rigging the elections. Khan was confident that come what may, the establishment will never “betray” him. To his dismay, when the establishment headed by General Bajwa decided to be “neutral,” Khan was voted out of power and since then he has taken the unprecedented step of openly targeting the Army Chief.

“Those same institutions weakened Pakistan which gave it its foundation and strengthened it,” Khan said.

The former premier dared Bajwa to arrest him following his call to his supporters to prepare for the second “Long March” against the Shehbaz Sharif government and the “neutral” Pakistani Army chief.

Pakistani watchers believe that though the Pakistani military establishment’s “hybrid” experiment with Imran Khan has failed, it has managed to divide the Pakistani Army. There are whispers in the power corridors of Pakistan that General Bajwa is under “stress” of losing his grip on the Pakistani Army.

There are generals and army officers who were against Bajwa’s decision to “abandon” Imran Khan. Many retired generals are seen arguing on TV channels in favour of Khan and against using the judiciary to push out the former Prime Minister.

“And that may be the reason, Bajwa is not stepping in and taking action against rogue Khan,” said one Pakistani journalist close to the establishment.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline and minor edits to improve readability)

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