ISLAMABAD: Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan Wednesday said his political opponents had fears that he wanted to bring General Faiz (Hameed) as the next army chief, which made them nervous and they thought that it would destroy their political future.
Speaking at a PTI seminar on “Regime change conspiracy and Pakistan’s destabilisation” here at a local hotel, he said: “They had fears in their minds that I wanted to bring General Faiz; it made them nervous [and they thought] that if I appointed my Army Chief in November, the country will be destroyed i.e. their future would be destroyed.”
Imran made it clear that he had never thought of appointing an army chief of his own choice, and he would have appointed a new army chief on merit in the month of November. He claimed to have never flouted merit and had not thought about the new army chief yet, whereas they (then the opposition) used to say that Imran would bring his own army chief.
Imran remarked, “I want to make it clear and say that I never thought in any case and at any point of time who to make the army chief in November, because it was not a problem. I had in my mind that when the time comes, I will do whatever happens on merit; I have never violated merit in my life.”
The former premier spoke at length about his oft-repeated notion of a US conspiracy to depose his government. He said when a regime is to be changed, money is spent on media. He said it was cruel to send troops to the tribal areas under the US pressure. Imran claimed Gen Orakzai had told him, citing a US official talk in 2006, that America pays for fighting, not making peace.
He lamented, “We served Americans by flouting our constitution… CIA and FBI picked up Pakistanis, and shifted them to Guantanamo Bay….80,000 people martyred in bombing.” The PTI chairman, however, contended that Nawaz Sharif had a problem regarding the army chief because he had so much stolen money that he wanted to control the army; other institutions he had already controlled. He added that they (rulers) had been destroying institutions; the FIA and NAB had already been destroyed. He claimed that the rulers were digging graves for the justice-giving institutions. Imran said NAB had recovered Rs480 billion during the tenure of PTI government against Rs280 billion in previous 18 years.
He accused ex-premier and PMLN Quaid Nawaz Sharif of always violating merit, who brought the army chief of his own choice, as he needed that owing to his corruption.
Imran alleged that they (the present rulers) had to control every institution that threatened their theft; so they were afraid of the army because the ISI and military intelligence had their reports, so they want to control [all institutions]; their governments were ousted for corruption twice in the 1990s.
Imran Khan said Khurram Dastagir claimed that Imran Khan was all set to appoint his army chief, and then it would become impossible to remove him for 15 years. Then accountability would also be held, he added.
The PTI chairman said their statements imply that if another army chief would come, then their accountability would stop: it also means that they need an army chief who could help them.
Not for democracy or for betterment of a country, he pointed out, the United States got regime changed for its own interests, using people to advance their own interests. He again clarified, “I never consider myself anti-American; we have great Pakistani American community, the richest Pakistani diaspora, we should never spoil relations with them, America is a superpower, our highest exports are to the United States”.
Imran insisted that “we should not spoil relations in any case. However, should we let ourselves be used like tissue-paper in this way? Their agenda is to get recognised Israel, accept India that it is our local policeman here: their straightforward agenda is to forget Kashmir because they want India to be strong, as it faces China while the US wants us to salute with great ease what India says”.
The former premier told the audience that he had a question for the “neutrals”: if a dacoity is being committed at a home, would the ‘chowkidar’ (guard) remain neutral?
He emphasised that Allah did not allow being neutral, adding Pakistan was today at crossroads: either we move in this direction or that direction, as the gear of neutrality is no more there. “The direction, in which they are taking the country, we will have to save it,” he said.
The PTI chairman said he could not have imagined that someone would make Shehbaz Sharif prime minister, as Shaukat Tarin and he went and explained to ‘neutrals’ that the country could not afford political instability because the country had come out of great difficulties, global super-cycle had come, lack of foreign exchange, would affect our currency, so stop this conspiracy.
He said that political instability was the first to affect our currency and foreign exchange and that is what happened and we knew that they did not understand the economy because if they had understood, we would have done something 10 years ago but we all knew what to do.
He blasted the incumbent government of PM Shehbaz Sharif over price-hike and said that inflation in these two months had not happened in years of the PTI government; “even though we were also in the International Monetary Institution (IMF) programme”.
He said that if anyone thinks “we will bow before the United States is wrong; I imagine that Miftah Ismail must have gone there and sat with folded hands, saying that I will polish your shoes. If you say, I call Shehbaz and he polishes better.”
Imran called PM Shehbaz shameless for offering cake to British ambassador recently, believing he may ‘support/ favour them by doing so.