Journalist Asad Toor has said that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan has allegedly been provided with a list of names of retired army officers who have been tasked with convincing serving army officers to quit the army and join Imran’s long march.
He made these claims during an appearance on Naya Daur TV’s show ‘Islamabad Buzz’ on October 6, which is hosted by journalist Waqas Ali. During the show, Toor said that the real target for Imran Khan’s long march is to pressurize Rawalpindi and not Islamabad.
“If they can get even a few officers to submit their resignations and come and give a few speeches during the long march, then it will successfully give the impression of discontent within the ranks of the army,” he said.
During the show the two also discussed the matter of the army chief’s retirement and subsequent appointment. Waqas commented that after Chief of Army Staff Qamar Javed Bajwa’s recent statement reiterating his intention to retire and not seek an extension, it seemed like the PTI was still out of favor with the army.
Toor said that in Pakistan’s history, you can’t ever be sure about army chiefs and their extensions, because until they officially step down, anything can happen. He cited the example of former COAS Raheel Shariff, who had said he didn’t want an extension, but then PML-N later said on the record that General Raheel Sharif had begged for an extension, much to the chagrin of Nawaz Sharif who had apparently told him he would not be getting an extension.
“But it seems like Imran Khan is not in favor with the chief still, because despite the meeting between Bajwa and Khan at the president house, it seems like Bajwa didn’t accept Khan’s offer, after which Imran made more derogatory remarks about the army chief,” noted Toor.
He also said that the next few months are very crucial because an outgoing army chief doesn’t have as strong a grip on the country as one who is still in command. “I am not saying that Bajwa should be given an extension —I am very against extensions and I think Bajwa is rightly going home, that is where he should go, but I am just saying that these next 1.5 months are crucial and could go either way so we need to monitor them carefully.”