In an informal interaction without journalists on the sidelines of proceedings into the Iddat case, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan finally confirmed backchannel talks with the military establishment, claiming he had rejected a proposed deal.
According to Khan, “someone” in the establishment “indirectly” approached his wife, Bushra Bibi, and asked her to convince him to exit politics for three years and “behave.” If he committed to the deal, he claimed, he would be granted an “open field” in future. This offer, he claimed, was conveyed while he was in Attock Jail last year and before he was convicted in the Toshakhana and cipher cases.
“They want me to stay quietly in Banigala,” he said, referring to his residence, adding he had said he would not step back from his demand for a “democratic system” in the country. “I held several meetings with former Army chief Gen. (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa for holding of free and fair elections. I will not accept any other deal,” he added.
Urging the establishment to realize “rigged elections” would lead to political instability, he warned this would prove disastrous for the economy.
The PTI founder also alleged that his party’s rival Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz), in “collusion” with the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), planned to “hijack” the upcoming elections by “hacking” computers. “I would call on all political parties, Jamaat-e-Islami, Pakistan Peoples Party and others, to watch their votes,” he said, stressing that final results should only be accepted if they were compiled in the presence of their polling agents.
To a question, however, he rejected any possibility of a “deal” with the PPP to form the next government. “The day I seek help from [PPP Co-Chairman Asif Ali] Zardari would be judgement day,” he added. He further rejected the impression that his wife had been placed under house arrest as the result of some kind of deal, maintaining neither he, nor her, had any knowledge of her detention outside jail and did not support it.
Reiterating allegations that the former Army chief started conspiring against his government from the outset of the PTI’s regime, he claimed PMLN leader Khawaja Asif was a “close friend” of Bajwa’s father-in-law. “Gen. Bajwa, in order to get a second extension, connived with Shehbaz Sharif,” he said, though was unable to explain why his PTI spearheaded the efforts to secure the extension if this were accurate. “They could have toppled the PTI regime much earlier, but they had to delay the regime change plan because of the coronavirus outbreak,” he claimed, accusing the ex-Army chief of “fabricating” the cipher case against him.
He also reiterated claims that he had not considered elevating former ISI chief Lt. Gen. (retd.) Faiz Hamid to the post of Army chief. “Gen. Bajwa conveyed to the PMLN that I wanted to appoint Faiz Hamid as the Army chief,” he claimed.