• Unhappy over Imran’s criticism of ex-COAS
• PTI chairman slams former army chief, but promises ‘no action’ if party comes to power
LAHORE: Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Parvez Elahi went head-on against the ally PTI and its chairman, rejecting Imran Khan’s continuous criticism of former army chief and asserting that his PML-Q would no longer tolerate any remarks against Qamar Javed Bajwa “because he is our and PTI’s mohsin (benefactor)”.
However, Mr Khan on Sunday yet again described the former army chief as corrupt but insisted that he would not act against him if PTI regained power.
In an interview with ARY News, Mr Elahi said his relationship with the establishment was long-lasting and was never broken under any circumstances and added that he even endured tough times during his relationship with the establishment.
Mr Elahi was perturbed over the PTI chief’s several hard-hitting remarks during his Saturday speech, including the allegation of toppling his government in league with foreign powers against Mr Bajwa, especially when Mr Elahi was sitting beside Mr Khan. In his 50-minute speech, the former prime minister continued chiding the former army chief for ditching him as “he was neither allowing him to proceed against the corrupt nor letting him know that he was playing a double game and getting PML-N and its allies to bring in the government through conspiracy”.
Mr Elahi said he felt “very bad but could not speak to Mr Khan in privacy before he made a long speech and announced the dissolution of Punjab and KP assemblies on Saturday”.
He said that he, along with his son Moonis Elahi, had met Imran Khan early on Saturday and requested him not to speak against Mr Bajwa and added that Mr Khan had told them that he was receiving such requests from other quarters too. “We asked him to accept the requests,” he said, regretting that Mr Khan did not care about anybody and bashed the former army chief.
Referring to his previous day’s meeting with the establishment in Rawalpindi, Mr Elahi said he honestly explained all the pros and cons around the dissolution of Punjab and KP assemblies.
After Mr Elahi’s interview went on air, Mr Khan called Moonis Elahi to his residence and discussed the “harsh” remarks made by his father. The younger Elahi explained his father, himself and his party’s stance with regard to Mr Bajwa.
Following the meeting, Moonis Elahi tweeted that he met Mr Khan and explained that the PTI-PMLQ alliance was intact and would continue to be so. “The PML-N may continue mourning,” he said as the ruling party was reported vying to woo PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain to join the multi-party coalition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM).
Mr Elahi said during the interview that the PTI must remember “its benefactor” and “should not become ungrateful” to the services rendered by Mr Bajwa, who Mr Elahi said met the Saudi king and the crown prince, went to Qatar to bring money for Pakistan and even worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support Mr Khan’s government.
Mr Elahi, however, reiterated that the Punjab Assembly was Imran Khan’s trust and he had returned the trust on his call. He recalled that “we were even ready to dissolve the Punjab Assembly when Imran Khan asked just three days after he took oath as chief minister”.
The Punjab chief minister also expressed his resentment against former spy chief Faiz Hameed “for pushing him and his family members against the wall”. He claimed that Mr Hameed only stopped when Mr Bajwa “admonished him on our call”.
‘Will not act against Bajwa’
During a meeting with a delegation of the Council of Pakistan Newspaper Editors (CPNE) at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore on Sunday, the former premier said he had a “personal” dispute with Mr Bajwa, but he would not act against him if he came to power again.
When Faiz Hameed was removed as spy chief, the plan to topple the PTI government came to the fore, Mr Khan said, adding that he continued telling Mr Bajwa that no one would be able to save the economy if the government toppled.
He said that he had explained to Mr Bajwa that “Shehbaz Sharif was corrupt” and “wanted in a Rs16 billion corruption case” and therefore must not be considered to bring in the new government. “Unfortunately, corruption was not a problem for Gen Bajwa and he proved himself to be corrupt too,” he said.
Mr Khan said both provincial assemblies be dissolved and hold all corrupt accountable if returned to power after general elections. “If elections are delayed now, the country will land in the default zone,” he warned.
“Holding elections within 90 days after the dissolution of assemblies will be the real test of neutrals,” he said, reminding the new army chief, Gen Asim Munir, that he himself announced and decided to stay neutral and would not interfere in politics.
Earlier, while responding to a question about Parvez Elahi’s remarks against Mr Khan, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said Mr Elahi was running his own political party and always vociferously expressed his party’s views but at the same time also welcomed and implemented the decisions taken by PTI chief Imran Khan.
“This is the beauty of the PTI-PML-Q relationship,” he said and added that both parties would go to the next general election as allies.
Published in Dawn, December 19th, 2022