KARACHI / LAHORE: Rowing back his remarks about the role of former spymaster Lt Gen (retd) Faiz Hameed in the no-trust vote against the PTI government, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (Fazl) chief Fazlur Rehman on Friday said he had “mistakenly uttered” the name of the general along with then-army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa.

In a TV interview on Thurs­day evening, the Maulana said: “They (Bajwa and Faiz) were in contact with all political parties regarding the no-confidence motion and they told us the way of going about it.” He claimed that he was not in favour of the no-confidence move but he had to support it, otherwise they would have blamed him for saving Imran Khan’s government.

Fazl’s remarks had triggered a flurry in political circles, with his former allies in the PDM-led government as well as the PTI both passing comments on the allegations. PML-N leader and a confidant of Shehbaz Sharif, Malik Ahmad Awan, disputed the Maulana’s claim, challenging him to prove his statement.

Gen (retd) Faiz had been replaced as the ISI director-general by Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum and posted as Peshawar corps commander months before the PTI government was ousted.

PML-N leader challenges JUI-F chief to prove his claim about PTI govt’s ouster

Questioned about the matter and the alleged responses from the generals in an interview on GTV programme G for Gharidah, Maulana Fazl acknowledged, “It is correct to this extent that I mistakenly uttered Gen Faiz’s name and he was not [involved in the no-confidence incident] … there is no doubt.”

However, he said, he considered the former generals and “their whole regime” responsible for the alleged rigging in the 2018 general elections, according to Dawn.com. “Instead of further debate, this should be relegated to history,” he added.

He also said when the two generals were alerted about political, economic and defence instability during the PTI government, they began approa­ching politicians to “stabilise the situation”. He explained the establishment had always had a role in the country’s politics — a practice he said should end.

Regarding the challenge to make the allegations under oath, Maulana Fazl said it was a waste of time to discuss oaths, especially when “there is no respect for their [own] oaths among the military. Is there respect for the oath in their ranks … in the army … among generals? Don’t they take an oath of not interfering in politics when they are commissioned? Don’t they know they are interfering, have always done so and keep breaking their oath?” the JUI-F chief asked.

He said that on March 26, 2022, the PDM parties were given the option that Imran could tender his resignation if they dropped the no-confidence motion against him. He said even before he joined the meeting, other participants had given their answer that the time for Imran’s resignation had passed.

Asked about his first purported meeting with retired Gen Bajwa or other military officials on the no-trust move, the JUI-F chief said he had “many private meetings”.

‘N’ wanted PTI to complete term

However, the PML-N lashed out at the JUI-F chief for shaking hands with the Sharif’s arch rival Imran Khan and termed his statement on no-confidence motion a ‘lie’, saying the PML-N was rather in favour of letting his (Khan) government complete the five-year tenure.

Earlier while addressing a press conference at the PML-N provincial headquarters Model Town here on Friday, Malik Ahmad Khan said the then army chief Gen Bajwa had advised the then-opposition (PDM) not to bring a vote of no-trust against then premier Imran Khan.

“I was present in that meeting,” he claimed before asking the Maulana to tell the nation when did that meeting took place in which Gen Bajwa had asked PDM leaders to bring in a no-trust motion against Mr Khan.

The PML-N leader disputed the Maulana’s assertion. “Ma­u­lana should prove his claim that any such meeting in which Gen Bajwa and Gen Faiz had instructed the PDM to go for a no-confidence motion against Imran Khan. He is not speaking the truth. He has insulted the political parties,” he said.

He said Gen Bajwa in fact had conveyed Mr Khan’s message in a meeting (with the PDM leaders) on March 26, asking them not to bring no-confidence motion as it would bring instability. “But the Maulana took a firm stand pushing the PDM allies to bring the no-confidence motion forthwith. I want to ask the Maulana why he pushed us to bring the no-confidence as the PML-N was not in favour of it, as it wanted the PTI government to complete its tenure.

IMF deal

“Even the party chief organiser Maryam Nawaz had proposed that the party’s lawmakers should resign from the assemblies,” he said, while claiming that had the PDM not sent the PTI government home, the IMF might not have signed an agreement with Pakistan again.

The PML-N leader expressed his surprise over the PTI-JUIF meeting, reminding the Maulana what he and Mr Khan used to say about each other.

“Maulana used to say that Imran Khan Niazi wanted to weaken the state. The statements/words of both the Maul­ana and Khan against each other are before everyone,” he said, while reminding the Maulana that after the May 9 violence he used to rule out the possibility of talks with Mr Khan and his party.

Zulqernain Tahir in Lahore also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, February 17th, 2024

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