Imran Khan told Pakistani news editors that the incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir himself has said that he will remain neutral. However, holding elections within three months of dissolution of the assemblies will the biggest test of his neutrality, Khan added.
He made these remarks while meeting a delegation from the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore on Sunday 18 December.
Khan said that when Lt General (retired) Faiz Hameed was removed as DG ISI in late 2021, it became obvious to him that a plan had been hatched to topple his government. “I told General Bajwa that if the plan to topple the government succeeds, no one will be able to manage the country’s economy,” Khan said.
The former prime minister told editors that he asked the former army chief how could Shehbaz be considered for the prime minister’s office when he was accused in corruption cases amounting to Rs 16 billion. Khan said he later came to understand that corruption was “not that big of an issue” for the then-army chief.
“General Bajwa used to say that Aleem Khan should be made the [Punjab] chief minister. I found out about his [Aleem Khan’s] illegal assets, so I asked how he can be made chief minister,” he said.
Imran Khan said that Pakistan’s economy would have performed even better if there wasn’t a coronavirus pandemic, and if China had not been locked down for two years.
The economy of the country is declining and income of people is low, so how can loans be returned in this situation, Khan questioned with his usual oversimplifications. “A country cannot prosper if there is no rule of law”, he remarked.
“I told General Bajwa that if we catch ten to twelve of the most corrupt people, everything will get back on the right track”, Imran said, adding the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) was formed in 1999 but it should also be questioned as to whether corruption has increased or decreased since then. “We had a decent relationship with General Bajwa, but I don’t know what happened later,” Khan thought aloud.
The former prime minister also said that he has a personal dispute with former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa but he will not take any action against him if he comes into power again.