Ousted Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s and his party leaders have stepped up their campaign against the establishment and are openly accusing Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and the judiciary for supporting the US conspiracy in toppling their government.
Addressing his election rally in Mardan on Friday evening, the Imran Khan said that he had warned “neutrals” – a reference to General Bajwa, “now everyone knows the neutrals were not actually neutral," and went on to question whether they were "part of the conspiracy to derail Pakistan on the economic and democratic front”. He raised the question as to how one could stay neutral when the country was facing destruction.
Khan claimed that he is getting calls from Bajwa and his generals but he has blocked their numbers as he is not ready to talk to them.
Khan said that he had warned the military establishment that the "fragile economic recovery would go into a tailspin" if the conspiracy against his government succeeded.
"It would have been better to drop an atom bomb on Pakistan than to have these people in power,” Geo TV quoted him as saying.
Talking about his relationship with his “selector” military establishment headed by Bajwa, Khan said it was “good” till the issue of former ISI chief Lt General Faiz Hameed’s issue came up. Khan admitted that he needed his blue-eyed general Hameed to remain the ISI chief to thwart the opposition's foreign conspiracy against Pakistan.
“I wanted Faiz as the Inter-Services Intelligence chief till the winter, given the situation in Afghanistan and due to the opposition's plot against me. But the ‘neutrals’ did not play their role to block the way of conspirators,” Dawn quoted Khan as saying.
Imran Khan made it clear that he has high regard for the military establishment but said that by remaining “neutral” they have done more damage to the country.
“This is the most bizarre anti-army movement in the country’s history. While past movements have been against the army’s interference in politics beyond its constitutional ambit, this one is protesting against the army’s lack of interference and withdrawal of support for one party,” says Pakistani journalist Talat Aslam in his post.
Last week the Pakistani military establishment had warned Khan, his supporters and others to refrain from campaigning against their leadership.
“Pakistan Armed Forces take strong exception to such unlawful and unethical practice and expect all to abide by the law and keep the Armed Forces out of political discourse in the best interest of the country,” it said in a statement.
The all-powerful army has ruled Pakistan for almost half of its history and played a behind the scene role in sending home various elected governments.
In a first of its kind “hybrid” project, the army installed Imran Khan as the prime minister in 2018 but differences started cropping up when Khan started asserting himself on the decisions made by army chief Bajwa. According to Pakistani watchers, the hybrid Khan-military regime failed miserably, worsening the instability in the country and leaving a legacy of high inflation, especially food inflation, dwindling foreign reserves and increasing fiscal deficit.
Experts believe that despite Khan’s ongoing provocations, generals of the Pakistani military establishment have not taken the bait yet. They seem to be worried but probably do not know how to handle their rogue ‘puppet” as Imran Khan continues to push the limits.