• Blames former army chief for current political, economic instability; claims he’s not in contact with new military leadership
• Says govt will be forced to hold polls in April

KARACHI: Former prime minister Imran Khan once again apportioned blame for the recent resurgence of terrorism in the country on the unwillingness of the current government to abide by the commitments made by the previous regime, saying that despite an agreement among all political parties, no resources were provided for the rehabilitation of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters and their families.

In a wide-ranging interview with BBC Urdu, published on Wednesday, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chief said that the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government did not pay heed to those returning from Afghanistan.

He recalled that as soon as the regime changed in Kabul, the outlawed TTP fighters in Afghanistan were asked by the Afghan Taliban to return to Pakistan.

“The previous Ghani administration used to patronise them and they used to attack Pakistan from there,” Mr Khan claimed, saying that at this point, the country had two options.

“We could either line up those 40,000 people, including fighters and their families, and shoot them, or we could rehabilitate them.”

He claimed there was consensus among all political parties on the issue, but regretted the fact that this did not happen.

“When the militants came, they were not rehabilitated or given any proper attention, and no money was spent on them. We were afraid that if we did not pay attention to them, then terrorism would start in different places, which [is what] has happened.”

Earlier, on Jan 10, Mr Khan had told a seminar in Islamabad that his government had planned to resettle TTP fighters in Pakistan’s tribal districts with the help of the Afghan Taliban, but the plan hit a snag owing to non-cooperation of the provinces.

At the time, he said, the plan did not materialise, because two provinces refused to foot the bill for this initiative. Sindh and Balochistan refused to give 3 per cent share from the National Finance Commission (NFC) for the uplift of tribal districts and then the federal government stopped its cooperation after PTI’s ouster, he said.

Relations with new brass

Asked about his relationship with the new army chief and whether he had established contacts with the new army leadership with the help of President Arif Alvi, Mr Khan said he had no contact with the fresh brass at present.

Speaking on the current political and economic instability, the ex-premier continued to blame retired former army chief Qamar Javed Bajwa, saying that the root cause of this instability was the ouster of his government.

He added that he and Shaukat Tareen (then-finance minister) had told Gen Bajwa that if he created political instability to ensure the success of this conspiracy, then nobody would be able to handle the economy, and that was what happened.

Reiterating that the current government was incapable of handling the economy, he said the market had lost faith in it and chaos began to take hold. “Just ask (any) business personality today. Is it because of us? As soon as the current government arrived, it realised that it did not have a road map.

“What Gen Bajwa has done together with them (PML-N), even the enemy would not have done this to Pakistan”, he added.

Early elections

On early elections, Mr Khan said he could not tolerate the current regime for even a couple of more months, as his prediction was that “this government will be forced to hold elections in April”.

He also claimed that the establishment had put pressure on Parvez Elahi to either join hands with the PML-N or not to leave the chief ministership, but he was loyal to the PTI.

The merger between the PML-Q and his party, he indicated, would be his way of ‘returning the favour’ in exchange for Mr Elahi’s loyalty.

Published in Dawn, January 19th, 2023

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