Did Imran Khan try to oust Pakistan Army Chief at the last minute?

Two ‘unsolicited’ guests reached the Prime Minister’s House by helicopter on Saturday night and met Khan in private for about 45 minutes…the meeting was not cordial, as per a BBC Urdu report

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo)
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan (file photo)

Saiyed Zegham Murtaza

Did Imran Khan Niazi try to challenge the ‘Supreme Authority’ of the Pakistani Army before being ousted by a no-confidence vote in the Parliament of Pakistan? If the reports from Pakistan are to be believed, Imran Khan made a final desperate attempt to sack army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa to save his government.

What happened on April 09, 2022 didn’t surprise many. Imran Khan Niazi is not the first, maybe not the last Pakistani prime minister to be ousted unceremoniously before completing his term. Though, the people of Pakistan may feel gratified as it is the first time their Prime Minister is being removed not by the army or the court, but by the democratic process.

The downfall of Imran Khan, a cricketer turned politician was inevitable. There are so many reasons, including his closeness with China, contradictions with the USA, the undemocratic ways of working, and the overdependence on rhetoric rather than on performance. But all these would have been manageable.

Challenging the ‘Supreme Authority’ of the Army isn’t acceptable in Pakistan. Imran Khan not only did this blasphemous act, but also tried to surpass the red lines drawn long before he was made Prime Minister by the same men in uniform. If a report in BBC is to be believed, Imran Khan also tried to oust General Qamar Bajwa before being voted out. Though the establishment in Pakistan tried to rubbish these reports as a pack of lies and "The typical propaganda story that lacks any credible, authentic and relevant source.”

“Two unsolicited guests” reached the Prime Minister’s House by helicopter on Saturday night and met Khan in private for about 45 minutes”, said the BBC Urdu report while adding that an hour before this meeting, Khan had ordered the removal of a senior official who was present at this meeting.

“However, the defence ministry didn’t issue an official notification for dismissing the official and appointing his successor. Thus the revolutionary attempt by the outgoing Prime Minister failed”, the report further reads.

Had this happened, it would have been an unprecedented event in the History of Pakistan. Maybe this effort would also have been killed at the court, but it is yet a daring attempt. It is believed that the Pakistan Army itself brought Imran Khan Niazi to power. There were times when Imran Khan boasted about his relationships with the Army and claimed to be on the ‘same page’ with those in uniform. But subsequently he lost the faith of the Army establishment, and due to many reasons.

Imran Khan overestimated his popularity and the ‘backing by the people of Pakistan’. No doubt, he is popular. Also, he is popular enough to get re-elected in the present circumstances, but his undemocratic style of working created so many enemies for the former captain of the Pakistani cricket team.

“He isn’t a team man and he wished to turn Pakistan into a Presidential form of government’, says his critics. The way he tried to save his minority government also strengthened the allegations that ‘Imran doesn’t believe in the supremacy of the Parliament and the Constitution’.

During his last days, apart from an attempt to oust the all-powerful Pakistan Army Chief, Imran tried to subvert the no-confidence motion in an unprecedented way. If it is the Westminster style of democracy, as the Pakistanis claim, no government in minority can dissolve the house. Also, the floor of the Parliament is the place where the majority can be claimed. A democratic government claims its authority from the majority in the house. Imran Khan had lost his authority once he lost the numbers on the floor of the house.

Interestingly, most of those who ditched Imran Khan were brought by the Army to his flock. When Imran Khan won the elections in August 2018, he may have the popularity, but most of the men who made the majority possible for him weren’t his diehard fans. It was an arrangement by the army. On his last day in office, Imran claimed to hatch a conspiracy against him by the USA and the Army. Obviously, this may not go in his favour now, if he wishes to return to power by winning the popular vote again. His attempt to oust General Bajwa will not go so lightly in the history of Pakistan.

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