Pak Army fixed Imran Khan with Sharifs’ support after he fell out of favour: Journalist Muzammil Suhrawardy

Pakistan military establishment decided to oust Imran Khan and bring back Sharifs after he defied it over issue of who should head ISI, noted Pakistani journalist Muzammil Suhrawardy said

Pak Army fixed Imran Khan with Sharifs’ support after he fell out of favour: Journalist Muzammil Suhrawardy

NH Web Desk

Pakistan’s military establishment created circumstances to ensure Imran Khan’s ouster as Prime Minister in collaboration with the Sharif family after its relationship with him soured, noted Pakistani journalist, political commentator and television host Muzammil Suhrawardy has said.

Speaking to Zafar Agha, Editor-in-Chief of National Herald Group, Suhrawardy said that the brass of the armed forces decided it was time to show Imran Khan the door after he had a stand-off with Pakistan Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa over the issue of the transfer of Lt Gen Faiz Hameed, DG of ISI in October, 2021.

“It is well-known that Imran Khan’s party PTI came into power only with the support of the military establishment, with troops even standing guard at many polling centers during the election held in 2018. Even then, he did not get absolute majority but was able to form the government with the help of allies. So, for him to have crossed swords with Gen Bajwa when the latter wanted Lt Gen Hameed moved out of ISI since his three-year-tenure was over certainly did not go down with him, to say the least,” Suhrawardy said.

“When the opposition raked up the issue, the Army officially maintained that it was politically neutral. In a political speech around this time, Imran made a pointed comment that human beings couldn’t be neutral; only animals could be neutral. This further soured the relationship between him and the Army,” he added.

“At that point itself, a decision was evidently taken to ease out the Imran Khan-led PTI govt and bring the Sharifs back,” he said.

Suhrawardy said that this was confirmed by former PM Nawaz Sharif himself when he met with him in London, where the latter has been living in exile after being disqualified from office and convicted in a corruption case related to the Panama Papers.

“He told me that he had decided to extend help to whoever approached him first: the Army or Imran Khan. Since Imran Khan did not approach him, he helped the Army and Khan was made to exit,” Suhrawardy said.

He said that the Pakistan Army brass was also very unhappy with Imran Khan over his visit to Russia at a time when the entire international community, especially the United States, was agitated over its aggression against Ukraine.

Talking about the events on April 9, Suhrawardy pointed out that when Imran Khan failed to let a no-confidence motion vote be held in the National Assembly even till 11 PM, Pakistan Supreme Court assembled for a hearing on contempt of court.

“Prison vans were stationed outside Parliament since the instructions were to haul away Imran Khan’s entire Cabinet, if necessary,” he said.

Even Islamabad HC was preparing to hold an urgent hearing over a petition against the dismissal of Gen Bajwa, Suhrawardy said.

“There was a strong buzz that Imran Khan was so desperate to hold on to power, against the wishes of the military establishment, that he tried to sack Gen Bajwa at the last minute. But nobody can be sure of what really happened except the two of them,” he said.

Responding to a discussion on how Indo-Pak relations may shape up now that Shehbaz Sharif had taken over as Prime Minister, Suhrawardy opined that an improvement was quite likely since Gen Bajwa was keen that the current spell of hostility should end.

“The Sharif family is known to stand for its keenness to maintain relationships with the international community, be it China, UAE, USA etc. Nawaz Sharif had a good rapport with Indian PM Narendra Modi. As such, one certainly looks forward to the resumption of a dialogue between the two countries in the near future,” he said.

“The UAE had brokered a ceasefire agreement between India and Pakistan, and things have largely been peaceful, though some tweets made by Imran Khan on his official handle casting aspersions on PM Modi – which he declined to delete – did not go down well. In general, Imran Khan’s foreign policy was not appreciated by the Army. They clearly expect such things to be handled with diplomatic pragmatism in Shehbaz Sharif’s regime,” he said.

Asked if backchannel talks between the two countries were being held, Suhrawardy said he was sure that was indeed the case. “But an official dialogue can’t be held between two Army chiefs. It can be held only between the Defence Ministers or Prime Ministers of the two countries. And now that the Sharif family is back on Pakistan’s political centerstage, one is looking forward to positive developments on this front,” he said.


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