ISLAMABAD: A week after retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa completed his extended tenure, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leader Asad Qaiser has said the decision to grant a three-year extension to the former army chief was a “wrong decision”, which the party regretted.

Gen Bajwa was given an extension by former prime minister Imran Khan in 2019 three months before the completion of his three-year term as the chief of army staff. Mr Qaiser, however, added that the decision to extend his tenure was a “collective” decision of parliament and all political parties supported the move.

“Everyone [in the party ranks] is realising that it was a mistake to grant him [Bajwa] an extension,” the former National Assembly speaker said, adding that such decisions should not be made for the sake of individuals.

The remarks by the former National Assembly spea­­ker came during an interview with DawnNewsTV’s Nadir Gurmani on Saturday.

When asked if there was any “pressure” on the government to extend the tenure of ex-COAS, the PTI leader refused to answer the question and said that no matter why or how the decision was taken, the move to grant the extension to the former army chief was wrong nonetheless.

‘Open to talks’

The PTI leader said the former ruling party was willing to sit with the government to find a solution to the prevailing political impasse provided that the government added general elections to the agenda for the dialogue. “We are ready to talk to the government…we are not asking them to give us the date for the [general] elections beforehand,” he said, adding that it was, however, their demand that elections should be a part of the agenda for the dialogue with the government.

He elaborated that the PTI was not looking for statements from ministers regarding the elections, but a “proper policy statement” that should say negotiation on elections would be part of the agenda.

Published in Dawn, December 4th, 2022

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