Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he finds Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa to be a very balanced personality who is fully committed to democracy, and that the decision to extend the general’s term had been taken as early as last year.
Khan was speaking with senior journalist Irshad Bhatti, an analyst of Jang Group, during an informal discussion.
Revealing details of that discussion to Geo News host Shahzeb Khanzada, Bhatti said that the prime minister found the speculation surrounding the extension of Bajwa’s term as “very strange”.
Khan said that he, at the very outset of assuming the office, had decided that Bajwa would be offered an extension to his term as army chief.
The premier further said that the army chief’s adherence to democracy is praiseworthy, adding that Bajwa is the best army chief.
Bhatti quoted Khan as saying that Bajwa had supported the government all the way on the Kartarpur initiative, parleys with the White House, in dialogue with the Middle Eastern neighbours, and in addressing the economic situation.
The prime minister maintained that without the army chief, the government would not have made strides on the domestic and external fronts.
Khan also noted that he was proud of Bajwa, as the decorated military man is a “blue-blooded” soldier.
Bhatti told Khanzada that during the interview, the prime minister looked relaxed and confident.
Khan also had interesting answers when asked about the sarcastic remarks he had recently made against Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) president Shehbaz Sharif and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari.
According to Bhatti, the prime minister said that although Bilawal had been in practical politics for over a decade, governance in Sindh was “absolutely atrocious”, and he questioned how a politician could be dismissive of an issue when more than 30 people had been killed in lightning strikes.
Khan also went on to question if the Sharifs were the protégés of Lieutenant-General Ghulam Jilani Khan, the former Punjab martial law administrator.
The prime minister maintained that if the rumours are true, then there is nothing wrong with bringing them up.
However, upon objections to the manner in which the statements were made, Khan conceded that the language used was not befitting of the office he holds.
He admitted that even though the members of the opposition parties often pass similar remarks, he, as prime minister, should not respond in kind.
At the discussion, Khan also revealed that the best moment of his young premiership was when the Pakistan Air Force shot down an Indian fighter jet that had invaded Pakistani airspace.
Bhatti said that the prime minister also remarked that the lowest point of his term so far was to witness the persistent persecution of the people of Indian-administered Kashmir by the Indian security forces.
Khan also discussed domestic politics, alleging that Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam – Fazlur (JUI-F) leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman had been “cutting suspect deals” throughout his political career.
Dispelling the impression that the government too had “struck a deal”, the prime minister said that Rehman should clarify and tell the nation about the party with which he reached such an agreement.
The JUI-F chief is talking in an “ambiguous” manner, Khan said, adding that he would let Rehman claim whatever he wished to.
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