Days after his son Moonis Elahi made a similar statement, Punjab Chief Minister Parvez Elahi on Sunday said that former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa had nudged the PML-Q to support the PTI and former prime minister Imran Khan.
In an interview with Bol News programme Tajzia, Elahi said he had received offers from both the PTI camp and the then-opposition for the PML-Q’s support. The chief minister said that his son Moonis Elahi had also expressed a desire to side with the PTI.
“God changed our path in the last moments and sent Bajwa sahab to show us the way. When I expressed my concerns about the Sharifs and that I don’t trust them then Bajwa sahab said, ‘You should proceed carefully and the path going towards Imran is better for you and your friends,’” CM Elahi said without specifying if his interaction with the former COAS occurred prior to the no confidence move against Imran or at the time of the Punjab chief minister elections.
Similarly, Moonis had claimed during Hum News programme Hum Meher Bokhari Kay Sath on Thursday night that Gen Bajwa advised his party to support the PTI in a weeks-long tussle that ended with Imran’s ouster as the prime minister through a no-confidence vote in April.
“At present, a certain section on social media has been bashing Bajwa sahib without any reason. He is the same Bajwa sahib who had bent the direction of the river’s flow for the PTI,” Moonis had said, adding that he had had a disagreement on this with the PTI and anyone else speaking against the retired army chief.
He went on to say that a man “went all out for you (PTI)”, but now that he had retired, “he has become bad”.
“Had he been bad, he wouldn’t have asked us to back Imran.”
When Bokhari sought clarification on whether Gen Bajwa had asked them to support Imran, Moonis had elaborated: “When the decision was being taken on which way we have to go, we had received offers from both sides — mian sahiban [Sharif family], the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement), as well as the PTI.
“Obviously, as everyone knows, my inclination was towards the PTI. There’s no doubt about it.”
Moonis had continued, “I then had a discussion with walid sahib (his father) and walid sahib had a talk with them (an apparent reference to the military establishment).
“They said, ‘It is my wish that you side with them (PTI)’. Had that man (Gen Bajwa) been bad, why would he have asked us to side with them at that critical juncture … Had that man been that bad and against Khan sahib and the PTI, […] he only had to give a signal at that juncture and we would have gone the other way.
“This is why I don’t even buy this story that he is against [the PTI],” he had added.
Moonis’ claim had come as PTI leaders intensified their criticism of Gen Bajwa following his retirement.
On Saturday, Imran said that he had committed a “big mistake” by granting Gen Bajwa an extension and also accused the former army chief of engaging in “double games”, double speak, mixed messages and more, alleging that Gen Bajwa denied everything when asked about the establishment’s contact with the then-opposition.
Answering a question about Moonis’s claim, Imran had explained: “Moonis was asked to support Imran Khan, while the other one [Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain] had been asked to go to PML-N. Gen Bajwa was playing a double game and I could later identify that even PTI’s different men were being given different messages.”
Govt officials lash out at Imran for Gen Bajwa comments
Meanwhile, government officials called out Imran for his comments regarding the former army chief.
PML-N stalwart and Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said during a press conference in Lahore: “He (Imran) is a person who says every day that he did a mistake. ‘Going to Russia was my mistake, the army chief’s extension was my mistake’.
“If you committed one mistake and we consider the extension a mistake as Khan sahab is saying, so why did you feel the need to offer an extension again?”
In October, Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum revealed that Gen Bajwa was given a “lucrative offer” in March for an extension in his tenure.
The railways minister alleged that Imran had not only made the offer behind “closed doors” but also said on television that a new government should appoint the next army chief.
“What did that mean? It meant that a new government after elections would appoint the next army chief, meaning the present army chief [at the time] would continue.”
Rebuking Imran, Rafique said he was silent with his criticism before Gen Bajwa’s retirement but launched a “cascade of curses” soon after.
Meanwhile, Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that Imran, through his interviews, was “creating a drama of being deceived by the establishment”.
Iqbal said that “everyone knows the reality” of how the establishment “helped” the PTI come to power in the 2018 general elections, only to distance itself from the party after the PTI’s “failure upon failure”.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also lashed out at the PTI chief, saying that his politics was aimed at making his way to power even if it meant “undermining foundations this country stands on”.