Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan has approached President Arif Alvi and demanded an inquiry against former Army chief Gen (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa for repeatedly violating terms of his oath, including secretly taping conversations with him during his prime ministership.
In a letter to President Alvi dated February 14, Khan sought stringent action against Bajwa for the violations he had done while serving as Pakistan Army chief.
According to the contents of the letter shared by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, the former premier demanded a probe against Bajwa on four counts.
The main grievance was based on Bajwa’s alleged remarks published on February 9 in an Urdu column by columnist Javed Chaudhry.
In the letter, Khan wrote that Chaudhry in his column mentioned that the retired general admitted that “‘we considered Imran Khan dangerous to the country if he continued to stay in power” and urged Alvi to probe Bajwa who he referred to as “we”.
“Who gave him (Bajwa) the power to decide that an elected prime minister (Khan) was supposedly a ‘danger to the country if he continued to stay in power,” Khan asked, adding that it was a clear violation of Bajwa’ his oath as given in Third Schedule Article 244 of the Pakistani Constitution.
As per the oath, the officers of the armed forces are not allowed to interfere in politics.
Khan wrote that Bajwa also admitted that he interfered in the affairs of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the national anti-corruption watchdog, to get former finance minister Shaukat Tarin cleared of charges of sleaze.
Khan claimed that admission was also a “clear violation of the Constitutional oath because the Army itself is a department under the Ministry of Defence and civilian official autonomous institutions (NAB) do not come [under] military control”.
The former premier wrote that another journalist, Aftab Iqbal, claimed in a YouTube vlog that “General Bajwa told him (Iqbal) in conversation that he had tapes of then-PM Imran Khan’s conversations with him”.
“The question is why and under what authorisation was General Bajwa recording confidential conversations?” Khan asked and termed the act a serious violation of his oath.
Khan also alleged that Bajwa at a seminar condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine by violating the national policy of staying neutral in the conflict.
“In view of these violations,…I would request you as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to institute an immediate inquiry against him,” he urged the president.
Referring to Articles 243 and 244 of the Constitution, Khan reminded Alvi that it was his “Constitutional duty” to take immediate action against Bajwa by setting up an inquiry to “establish whether such grave violations of the Constitution and oath of Office under the Constitution have taken place”.
Relations between Khan and Bajwa have deteriorated to a new low after the former repeatedly accused Bajwa of orchestrating his ouster last April and the latter began revealing his side of the story through meeting with selected journalists.
According to Chaudhry, he had asked the former Army chief, “why did you overthrow Imran Khan’s government?”, and Bajwa allegedly answered: “We did not overthrow his government. Our only crime was that we did not save his government. Imran wanted us to step in and save his government.” In the letter, he further quoted Bajwa as saying: “Our reading was that these people were dangerous for the country. If they remain then the country won’t remain.” Khan was removed through a no-trust vote on April 9, 2022. Initially, he blamed a US conspiracy to dislodge him but later on, he turned his guns on Bajwa.
Separately during a meeting with foreign journalists at his Lahore residence, Khan said the military establishment seems to be still following Bajwa’s policies to victimise him and his party leaders.
“The military establishment is not neutral,” he said.
He said Gen Bajwa imposed “looters and criminals” on the country who made the lives of people miserable.
“Pakistan is plunging into a financial crisis and more chaos like Sri Lanka. Pakistan may face a 1971-like situation (when the country broke),” he warned, referring to the creation of Bangladesh.
Citing the latest report of Fitch Ratings which has downgraded Pakistan’s long-term foreign-currency issuer default rating to ‘CCC’ Khan said it means the country has already reached the level of Sri Lanka that is witnessing its worst economic crisis.
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