New military leadership realises regime change experiment ‘failed’: Imran Khan

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LAHORE, FEB 12: Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said that the new military leadership had realised that the “experiment of regime change has failed”.

“I’m sure amongst the new military leadership there is a realisation that this experiment of regime change has gone wrong,” he said in an interview with the US broadcaster, Voice of America.

The PTI chief, who was ousted via a no-confidence motion in April last year, stressed that the elected governments must have authority as well as responsibility and a country’s “system fails if it is not the case”.

“The leading principle of the balance [of power] is that the elected government that has the responsibility, which people have mandated through their vote, must also have the authority,” Khan added.

Responsibility and authority, he said, cannot be separated and hence a system cannot work if the “two things are not vested in the same individual”.

“If the authority lies with the army chief, [but] responsibility lies with the prime minister, no management system works.”

While responding to a question regarding his relationship with the military as the premier, the PTI chief said that all the policies of the military in Pakistan depend on one individual.

“Military [in Pakistan] means one man, the army chief. So, the whole policy of military vis-a-vis their dealing with the civilian government depends on the personality of one man.”

The deposed prime minister went on to say that the positive side of his relationship with the then-army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, was his government having the “organised strength of Pakistan Army to help us”.

He said that the effect of this relationship was seen in the form of Pakistan’s successful response to COVID-19.

‘Gen Bajwa favoured biggest crooks’

The “problem”, according to Imran Khan, occurred when Gen Bajwa “favoured some of the biggest crooks in this country”.

He claimed that the former army chief wanted his government to turn a blind eye to the “biggest problem” and work in cooperation with the corrupt leaders, “giving them immunity from their corruption cases”.

Khan further stated that the former COAS had close ties with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and they “conspired”, and as a result the “regime change took place”.

According to the ousted premier, Pakistan’s economy has gone into a tailspin and the country is facing the worst political and economic crisis in history.

Sharing his views on his demand for general elections, the PTI chief said that staging “free and fair elections is not possible anymore” as the credibility of the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) as an impartial electoral body had been destroyed.

“There was a local government election in Sindh, that all the political parties rejected.”

‘Good ties with Afghanistan inevitable for Pakistan’

While talking about Pakistan’s bilateral ties, Imran Khan said that having a good relationship with Afghanistan, regardless of any government in the neighbouring country, “is inevitable for Pakistan”.

“Whatever government is in Afghanistan, Pakistan must have a good relationship with them,” he said, adding that as the prime minister of Pakistan, he tried his best to keep up with the Ashraf Ghani-led government on good terms in order to get Kabul’s help in dealing with terrorism.

It was disturbing that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari had spent almost all his time out of Pakistan, but hadn’t paid a single visit to Afghanistan, he said in response to a question about the incumbent government’s failure in getting assistance from Afghanistan against rising terrorism in the country.

Pakistan is “not in a position to have another war on terror”, he added.