PM Imran Khan deliberately delayed extension of Army chief Gen Bajwa: Shehbaz Sharif

Published on : 06:19 PM Mar 23, 2022

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had deliberately delayed the extension of Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa's tenure in 2019 - to taint the process in "controversy", Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif claimed on Wednesday. Sharif's comments came at a time when Prime Minister Khan is facing his toughest political test since assuming office in 2018 as a no-confidence motion has been introduced by the opposition parties against his government.

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had deliberately delayed the extension of Army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa's tenure in 2019 - to taint the process in "controversy", Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif claimed on Wednesday. He also said that while his party the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) always respected the military, the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) led by Prime Minister Khan was behind a social media campaign targeting the armed forces, Dawn News reported.

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Sharif's comments came at a time when Prime Minister Khan is facing his toughest political test since assuming office in 2018 as a no-confidence motion has been introduced by the opposition parties against his government. The National Assembly will convene on Friday to take up the no-trust motion against Khan. Sharif, who is the president of PML-N and younger brother of three-time premier Nawaz Sharif, recalled that when Prime Minister Khan tried to extend the army chief's tenure is 2019, the notification had to be re-drafted thrice.

While Sharif admitted he had no solid proof to back up his claims, it was his considered opinion that Khan had intentionally tried to make the process of extension controversial', it said. "The matter eventually went to the Supreme Court in the past, army chiefs have been awarded extensions in service all they had to do was copy-paste [from the summary of the previous document]. No, this was all done as a deception, it was a fraud perpetrated by Imran Khan Niazi. He wanted to delay it, make a controversy out of it, Shehbaz told Dawn News. Advertisement

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The powerful army, which has ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 73 plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy. Earlier this month, the powerful army distanced itself from the brewing political situation in the country, saying it has nothing to do with politics.

In a separate interview to SAMAA TV last week, the younger Sharif had said that he has always enjoyed good relations with every Army chief of the country as he served as a bridge between Rawalpindi (Army headquarter) and Islamabad (seat of the political government). In response to a question about the appointment of the next army chief when the term of the incumbent expires in November or giving an extension to the current chief Gen Bajwa, Sharif had said: "It is a premature question and will be considered when the time comes in the national interest. In the Dawn News interview, Sharif said free and fair elections were the first rung of the ladder to prosperity, adding that all institutions should operate within their respective jurisdiction.

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"A consultative process is different from interference," he remarked. Separately, while addressing a press conference on Tuesday Sharif forcefully refuted the allegations that his party was behind an ongoing social media campaign against the Army. Instead, he accused the ruling PTI of maligning the armed forces, saying video clips featuring Khan and his party members speaking against the establishment were available on YouTube. Accompanied with senior party leaders at the news conference, the PML-N president said a video clip of a PTI lawmaker had recently surfaced where she could be heard "spewing venom" against the Pakistani Army.

"Nawaz Sharif never talked like this," he said of his older brother who is in the UK receiving treatment for a heart condition. Nawaz had served less than 12 months of a seven-year jail term when he got an official permit to go to the UK on medical grounds. Sharif claimed General Bajwa had, on several occasions during their interactions, categorically stated that Nawaz Sharif as the prime minister had always respected him.

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He also quoted the Army chief as saying that whenever he had asked the ex-premier to do something for the Army or provide funds, he always helped. Talking about the corruption allegations against the Sharif family, the opposition leader hailed the apology made by Broadsheet chief Kaveh Moussavi. Broadsheet, an assets recovery firm contracted by the Pakistan government to trace looted funds of the state, earlier in the week apologized to Nawaz Sharif in public and withdrew allegations of corruption against him.

Sharif said it had not only vindicated Nawaz Sharif and his family but also dealt a resounding slap on the face of PM Imran Khan and his politically-inspired witch-hunt in the name of accountability.

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