ISLAMABAD: Foreign Minister and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari claimed that Imran Khan wants to make the appointment of a new army chief controversial and want to sabotage this process.
“Imran Khan called the date of the long march and gathering in Rawalpindi of those days in which the process of appointment of new army chief will be started. Imran Khan wants to politicize and to make the appointment of the new Army Chief controversial. Why did Imran Khan choose Rawalpindi when his goal is real freedom? Khan Sahib! Let this decision (appointment of COAS) happen. Let it happen this week, Imran Khan should postpone long march and the process of appointment of new Army Chief is to be completed smoothly. The PPP had made such conspiracies unsuccessful in the past and will do the same this time as well.”
Bilawal expressed these views, while addressing a news conference at Zardari House, Islamabad on Saturday.
He claimed that Imran Khan wants to stop institutions to play their democratic role. “He wants to play undemocratic games but we will stop him,” he said.
He said that the then opposition only used democratic means to oust the government of Imran Khan. He said appointment of the army chief is the prerogative of the prime minister.
The foreign minister also claimed that Imran Khan’s election hurt Pakistan as the country’s foreign policy suffered during the PTI’s tenure.
He said that the PPP has always struggled to strengthen democracy and Imran Khan’s journey from being a cricketer to being a ‘selected’ is in front of everyone. He said that the whole world is facing economic disaster due to the Russia-Ukraine war. “Imran Khan’s decisions have ruined the country’s relations from the Middle East, Europe to the US,” he said, adding that the PTI chairman’s so-called long march has no democratic purpose.
The foreign minister claimed that Imran Khan had always carried out his politics on the shoulders of undemocratic forces and even offered Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa a lifelong extension but he refused.
“The future of a politician such as Imran Khan is linked with making institutions controversial. They want new elections in the country or want the army to impose martial law,” he added.
“If Imran Khan wants real freedom, then why did he wait for this week? He wants to use the appointment of army chief for his own political benefits.”
He said that the appointment of the army chief is an administrative decision and its completion would end the politics of many including Imran Khan. “That is why he is making last-ditch efforts. Imran Khan should postpone his long march till the appointment of the army chief,” he added.
Responding to a question regarding the role of President Dr Arif Alvi, Bilawal said that at the time of the no-confidence motion against Imran, the president committed an “unconstitutional act” by trying to dissolve the National Assembly but hoped that he would do everything as per law and the Constitution this time.
“This is his last chance. If President Dr Arif Alvi tries to do something wrong and unlawful, he will have to suffer the consequences. It is his test whether he wants to support Imran Khan or the Constitution,” he said.
To another question, he said that he has heard that Imran Khan will announce that he will go to Rawalpindi. “He is coming to repeat an old threat but we will foil his scheme this time, as well,” he added. Bilawal said he would not advise the government to stop Imran Khan’s long march. However, he added, the PTI chief should not force the government to take such a step.
Answering a question, the foreign minister rejected rumours claiming that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s scheduled visit to Pakistan was postponed due to the PTI’s long march and political turmoil in the country. He said, “I don’t think Mohammed bin Salman’s visit was postponed due to Imran Khan’s long march.”