Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday reiterated accusations of former Army chief Gen. (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa betraying him, while stressing that he is willing to talk with incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen. Asim Munir.
In a meeting with local journalists at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, he said that no one in the military establishment is currently willing to talk with him. Claiming he felt that the incumbent Army chief was treating him like an enemy, he stressed that he had “no fight” with the establishment and was willing to talk with it for the national interest. “However, if anyone thinks I will kneel before them, that cannot happen,” he said, adding that it was “very important” for the Army to be “strong.”
To a question on his relationship with former Punjab chief minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi, who recently joined the PTI as its president, Khan claimed the establishment had tried to convince the politician to part ways with him. “Now it is my turn to show loyalty towards him,” he said, claiming he could not “betray” anyone. “The establishment lacks an understanding of politics,” he added.
Addressing the corruption cases against him in various courts, he claimed none of them could be proved against either him or his wife. Despite repeatedly calling for “civilian supremacy,” the PTI chief also said that the Army chief—who has no constitutional role to examine any malfeasance of lawmakers—should look into the issue personally if he doubted his integrity. “I am innocent of any corruption,” he added.
Former Army chief
Referring to former Army chief Bajwa, Khan accused him of “backstabbing” him, saying he should be “court-martialed” for speaking against his Russian tour shortly after he had visited Moscow ahead of the Ukrainian invasion. Even after the PTI government was toppled, he said, he had spoken with Bajwa for the betterment of the country. “Gen. (retd.) Bajwa, however, wanted to crush me,” he alleged.
To a question on alleged threats to his, the PTI chief said he had changed his travel plans for Islamabad—where he was attending court proceedings—because he had been informed of alleged plans to arrest him from the Islamabad airport and detain him in Balochistan. “I am in danger from those who are supposed to protect me,” he claimed, without elaborating. He also claimed that if he were imprisoned, it would secure more votes for his party.
The former prime minister, to another question, claimed he was still in contact with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman.
Discussing elections in Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Khan claimed the PTI would secure a victory despite “Pakistan Democratic Movement umpires.” He also maintained that overseas Pakistanis supported his party and would continue to do so. He said if the government wished to “save money,” it should conduct general elections nationwide rather than just in the two provinces.
To a question on who would be the PTI’s candidate for chief minister if it wins the elections in Punjab, he said he could not make any public declaration as “it would lead to a bloodbath.” Maintaining that there were several candidates, he claimed even women elected on reserved seats wanted to be considered as candidates for the post.