Former prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday asked President Arif Alvi to "institute an immediate inquiry" against retired General Qamar Javed Bajwa for violating "his oath of office repeatedly" as the army chief.
In a letter dated Feb 14, Imran listed four ways in which the former army chief allegedly violated the Constitution, while also referring to Gen Bajwa’s alleged remarks — published on Feb 9 in a column by Javed Chaudhry — as purported evidence for his claim.
PTI leader Shireen Mazari also announced her party chief's move on her Twitter account, sharing pictures of the said letter.
Citing Chaudhry's column, Imran wrote that Gen Bajwa had "admitted to journalist Javed Chaudhry that 'we' considered Imran Khan [to be] dangerous to the country if he continued to stay in power".
He added that it would be "critical to ascertain" from Gen Bajwa that who did he refer to as "we". The former premier raised the question, "Who gave him (Gen Bajwa) the power to decide that an elected prime minister (Imran) was supposedly a 'danger to the country if he continued to stay in power'?"
The PTI chief asserted: "Only the people through elections can decide who they want to elect as the prime minister. Taking such a right on himself is in clear violation of his oath as given in Third Schedule Article 244 of the Constitution."
Imran then listed Gen Bajwa's alleged admission that he "managed to get NAB (National Accountability Bureau) case against Shaukat Tarin dismissed".
He claimed this revealed that the NAB was under the former army chief's "control", which was "again a clear violation of the Constitutional oath because the army itself is a department under the Ministry of Defence and civilian official autonomous institutions (NAB) do not come [under] military control".
The former premier then went on to refer to a YouTube vlog made by journalist Aftab Iqbal. He said according to Iqbal, "Gen Bajwa told him (Iqbal) in conversation that he had tapes of then-PM Imran Khan's conversations with him".
The PTI chairman called it a "serious violation" of the former army chief's oath as well as of his own fundamental human rights. "The question is why and under what authorisation was Gen Bajwa recording confidential conversations?" he asked.
He said Gen Bajwa once again committed a "serious violation of his oath" when he "publicly went against the then government's policy of maintaining neutrality in the Russia-Ukraine war".
"He (Gen Bajwa) did this at an international conference in Islamabad on April 2, 2022 — the Islamabad Security Conference," the former premier claimed.
Imran asserted, "The government policy was arrived at after developing consensus of all stakeholders, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and retired diplomats who had the relevant experience and were area specialists".
Citing Chapter II of the Constitution, which "describes the mandate of the armed forces and specifically refers to Articles 243 and 244", Imran reminded Alvi it was his "constitutional duty as President and as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces to take immediate action and institute an inquiry".
He demanded that an inquiry be initiated to "establish whether such grave violations of the Constitution and oath of Office under the Constitution have taken place".
The development comes as the latest in the long-time acrimony between Imran and Gen Bajwa, who once claimed they were on the "same page". The cracks in the former premier and ex-army chief's relationship came to the fore after the PTI government's ouster in April last year.
Imran had also voiced his demand for an internal military inquiry against Gen Bajwa in an interview with Voice of America Urdu, which aired on Feb 10.
In his last public address as the army chief in November, Gen Bajwa had acknowledged that the army for seven decades had “unconstitutionally interfered in politics”.
He had said that the military’s interference in the political sphere by the military continued till February 2021 after which the military thoroughly deliberated on the matter and decided to stay out of politics.
Chaudhry had claimed that he had asked the former army chief, “why did you overthrow Imran Khan’s government?” to which Gen Bajwa allegedly answered: “We did not overthrow his government. Our only crime was that why we did not save his government. Imran wanted us to step in and save his government.”
Chaudhry said he then told Bajwa that he should have done so since “you have been doing this before as well” to which the former army chief was quoted as saying it would have been the “most suitable” option for him if he was looking after his own “interest”.
“I would have kept supporting Imran Khan and would have respectfully retired after bidding him farewell but I sacrificed my image for my country. I took the correct but difficult decision,” Chaudhry quoted the former army chief as saying.
The columnist said he quizzed Bajwa on how that was the correct decision to which the latter said: “Our reading was that these people were dangerous for the country. If they remain then the country won’t remain.” He goes on to explain that the ex-PM allegedly used a Punjabi word for the Saudi crown prince.
The column claimed that according to Gen Bajwa, one of Imran’s own federal ministers related this to the Saudi envoy who then began getting the word translated by different people.
In another example, the column claimed that Gen Bajwa said: “We kept stopping them from trying to make Shaukat Tarin the finance minister. I told the prime minister: ‘Sir he (Tarin) couldn’t run his own bank, he will tank the economy,’ but he was not convinced.
“There was a Rs8 billion corruption case against Shaukat Tarin in the NAB. Conversely, the prime minister asked us to finish this case. We were stuck with the FATF (Financial Action Task Force) and IMF (International Monetary Fund) so we were forced and thus Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed got Shaukat Tarin’s NAB case quashed.”
The column further claimed that the former army chief said: “I got a phone call from State Bank of Pakistan governor Reza Baqir and he was very worried. According to him, Shaukat Tarin had heated up the economy and dollar reserves were fast decreasing and ‘we need your intervention’.
“Thus we were forced to go to the prime minister and Hammad Azhar, Asad Umar, Shaukat Tarin and Reza Baqir were also present in this meeting. I asked the prime minister: ‘Sir you are collecting 53 per cent tax from customs. This is wrong. We will get trapped,’ but he (Imran) said: ‘This is a good thing. Tax revenue is increasing,’ to which I said: ‘Sir you are collecting rupees by sending dollars abroad. The country will not be able to continue this way. You should stop Shaukat Tarin otherwise we will default'.
“Reza Baqir supported this and the prime minister agreed but did nothing practically. Asad Umar thanked me after the meeting and said: ‘You are correct. We ended up on the wrong track. We should have done the things you told us today in the past.’ You can ask Asad Umar if I’m saying anything wrong.”