Chairmanship of Imran Khan is questionable | By Kanwar M Dilshad

113

Chairmanship of Imran Khan is questionable

CHAUDHARY Pervaiz Elahi Chief Minister of Punjab disclosed that former army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had mugged the PML-Q to support PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi’s remarks come on the heels of Imran Khan’s accusation earlier that General Bajwa was playing a double game.

Imran Khan said he had committed a big mistake by granting General Bajwa an extension and accused the former army chief Bajwa of engaging in double games, double speak, mixed messages and more.

Imran Khan alleged that General Bajwa had denied everything when asked about the establishment of contacts with the then opposition.

Chaudhary Pervaiz Elahi also remarked, that appeared less confident about earlier polls and acknowledged there is no system available under which we call for general elections and they happen before time.

He further said that coalition government has its tenure until next August 2023 and is to be seen how prudently it will tread in these critical times.

General Bajwa is not the only army chief who squandered his prestige by sticking around for longer than he ought to have.

Others before him who also overstayed their tenure suffered more or less similar fates, leaving it to other institutions to pay the price for their hubris.

Indeed if the army is serious about the recent commitment to detaching itself from domestic politics, it should, as a starting step, encourage a legislative initiative to do away with this practice completely.

The civilian leadership must take the opportunity to bury this harmful precedent rather than finding new ways to enforce it, such as the amendments to the Army Act that were recently being considered.

At the other end are the government allies who face as many struggles as Imran Khan himself.

But with a vast difference, Imran Khan has time on his side, even if he took a short break from politics and interviews, it would make little difference to his position.

The day he returns, he would still be the man dominating the KP and on the rise in Punjab. It’s near to ground reality that Imran Khan, may undoubtedly be one of the most popular leaders in the history of Pakistan, but despite the ground well of public support for his party, it appears Imran Khan is unable to use the situation to his political advantage and has no clear path for his next move.

In fact, going by the developments of a few weeks, when his coalition partners in Punjab made some revealing statements about the support of recently retired General Bajwa to Imran Khan’s narrative, which had resonated with millions up and down the country, appears convoluted.

In back to back television interviews, Moonis Elahi and Ch Pervaiz Elahi claimed that General Bajwa mugged PML-Q to support Imran Khan, a statement which contradicts Imran Khan’s stance that General Bajwa withdrew his support to the PTI.

In his interviews, Moonis Elahi clearly stated that General Bajwa advised the PML-Q to back the PTI and also expressed surprise that Imran Khan is criticizing the now retired General Bajwa who purportedly went all out for Imran Khan.

After weeks of Imran Khan publicly criticizing General Bajwa, these statements from his allies in Punjab are confusing.

In addition to these claims by the PML-Q, the CM Punjab categorical stated that there is no way to force an early election, as desired by Imran Khan, betrays an opposition in disarray.

Beyond this, Imran Khan’s own dramatic announcements, first about having talks with the government on elections and then resignation from the assemblies, have either been retracted, or fallen flat.

His recent admission that he should never have offered an extension to General Bajwa, too contradicts what the DG ISI said in that famed presser about Imran Khan offering yet another extension to the former army chief.

An ace at narrative building, Imran Khan successfully captured the public support by conjuring up the cipher controversy, and then by stirring anti-Bajwa sentiments.

But for all his efforts and popularity, he is at a dead end. His demands for early elections are legitimate, but with no option left to trigger general elections, the best thing for him to do is to return to the system.

In the end and last, its alarming that the legal position is that the Election Commission of Pakistan set into motion the process to remove Imran Khan as chairman PTI in the light of the Election Commission of Pakistan’s verdict in Toshakhana case, which disqualified Imran Khan under Article 63(1)P for making false statements and incorrect declaration.

A notice has been issued to Imran Khan and the case has been fixed for hearing.

—The writer is former Secretary Election Commission of Pakistan and currently Chairman National Democratic Foundation.