Home Editorial Editorial: Imran Khan and Gen. (retd.) Bajwa

Editorial: Imran Khan and Gen. (retd.) Bajwa

In accusing the ex-Army chief of instigating ‘regime change,’ the PTI chairman appears to have recognized the need to exercise caution on foreign policy

by Editorial

File photo of Imran Khan with ex-Army chief Gen. (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa, courtesy PID

Never before has an ousted prime minister vilified a retired army chief the way Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has. In a recent interview with Voice of America, he called for an internal military inquiry against Gen. (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa for an alleged “admission” of instigating the PTI’s ouster from power. Referring to a column by anchor Javed Chaudhry—which Bajwa has described as a “misquote” and the author says has been misconstrued—Khan pointed to a line in which the former Army chief was cited as saying that the PTI had been “dangerous for the country.”

Contradicting Khan’s repeated claims of Bajwa being responsible for his government’s ouster, the retired general maintains this is not true. In an informal chat with a local journalist he claimed the Army’s “only crime was that we did not save his government. Imran wanted us to step in and save his government.” In the same chat, he claimed he would have “respectfully” retired if he had continued to support Imran Khan, but “sacrificed” his “image” for the country.

Chaudhry’s column also claims that Gen. (retd.) Bajwa had opposed the appointment of Shaukat Tarin as finance minister, stating that the former Army chief had conveyed to Khan that the senator couldn’t even run his own bank, much less the national economy. “I got a phone-call from State Bank of Pakistan governor Reza Baqir, and he was very worried. According to him, Shaukat Tarin had heated up the economy, and the dollar reserve was fast decreasing and he said the country needed Army’s intervention,” Chaudhry quotes Bajwa as telling him, adding the PTI chief’s public criticism of America had also proven problematic.

Khan undoubtedly tried to profit off the anti-Americanism prevalent in the conservative mindset of Pakistanis, paying little heed to how this might impact bilateral ties with the superpower. The PTI chief has a habit of off-the-cuff remarks on foreign policy that endanger rather than help Pakistan’s international relations. In doing so, he ignores the prevalent view—as reportedly communicated by Gen. (retd.) Bajwa—of Pakistan steering a careful, non-provocative foreign policy. A state like Pakistan—perennially in crisis—cannot afford to alienate foreign states. Fortunately, Khan’s latest U-turn—wherein he now accuses Bajwa of “exporting” his debunked “regime change conspiracy” to Washington—suggests even he realizes that foreign policy is the one sector where you practice discretion rather than flexing “third world muscle.”

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