In an explosive article for an Indian news media platform, senior journalist Hamid Mir writes that he still remembers his interview with Imran Khan just a few weeks before the 2018 election, where Khan criticised Nawaz Sharif by saying that he was a product of the Pakistan Army.
When this interview was aired, Mir now reveals that he was called by Gen Bajwa. When Mir reached his residence in Rawalpindi, another journalist colleague of his, senior achorperson GEO News Saleem Safi, was already present there. Saleem Safi was telling Gen Bajwa that “you have decided to install Imran Khan in the office of Prime Minister, but mark my words that he will not only ditch you, he will stab you in the back”. Gen Bajwa then “lectured” Safi about journalistic ethics, and advised him to forget his “personal differences” with Imran Khan.
Mir says he witnessed this conversation between General Bajwa and Saleem Safi silently, not interfering for even a moment.
When Safi left, Gen Bajwa told Mir that Imran Khan mentioned “the past role of Army and ISI in support of Nawaz Sharif in an interview with you, please advise Khan not to speak about the Army because many people warned me after your show that Khan was in bad company and not to be trusted”. Mir states he respectfully made it clear to Gen Bajwa that he was a journalist, not an advisor of Imran Khan. The army chief laughed and said “I know you are his old friend, so advise him in your personal capacity”. Mir postulates that Gen Bajwa was perhaps taking advantage of his age-old ties; as Mir claims he had known Bajwa him since the latter was a Brigadier. He said, “many people tell me that Hamid Mir is a traitor who always criticises the Army, but I know you are not a traitor”. He requested Mir to help them “as a patriot”.
Gen Bajwa Never Treated Imran Khan As His Boss
Despite the full backing of Gen Bajwa and the ISI, Imran Khan failed to get a simple majority in the 2018 election. Finally, ISI managed the support of some independents, and that’s how Khan became Prime Minister. Gen Bajwa never treated Khan as his boss. He expressed displeasure over the appointment of chief ministers in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Gen Bajwa wanted his men as chief ministers, but Khan refused to oblige him, according to Hamid Mir.
Mir writes that he remembers one meeting with Gen Bajwa in 2019 when he told him that “you must meet the Prime Minister and tell him to remove Chief Minister of Punjab Usman Buzdar”. Mir says he once again offended him by saying, “I am only a journalist, it is not my job”.
Modi Was To Visit Pakistan, Gen Bajwa Wanted To Engage Israel
Mir says that according to Gen Bajwa, Indian PM Narendra Modi agreed to visit Pakistan on 9 April 2021. Gen Bajwa claims that PM Modi wanted to join the annual four-day pilgrimage to the Hinglaj Mata Mandir in Lasbela, Balochistan. Indian and Pakistani officials discussed the possibility of opening Hinglaj corridor between the two countries by connecting Barmer to Hinglaj Mata Mandir. Gen Faiz Hameed reportedly met Indian National Security Advisor Ajeet Doval in a Gulf country and agreed that both countries will open trade links and resume cricketing ties with each other. A decision was taken “in principle” to open trade with India, but this decision was turned down by the cabinet of Imran Khan. Gen Bajwa claims that both sides had agreed to “freeze” the Kashmir dispute for 20 years.
Days before his retirement, Gen Bajwa blasted the Pakistani media for creating hurdles in a possible breakthrough between India and Pakistan.
Mir writes he was present in a closed door security workshop at National Defence University, Islamabad where Gen Bajwa said that “whenever we try to improve relations with India, some people in the media blame the government for agreeing to sell Kashmir to the enemy”. Gen Bajwa also wanted to engage Israel, but Imran Khan was reluctant.