Imran Khan flips on Pakistan army chief tenure, suggests to extend his term till elections – Times of India

ISLAMABAD (PAKISTAN): In a change of stance, former Pakistan prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Monday suggested that Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa‘s tenure should be “extended till elections.”
In an interview with a private TV channel, Khan said that the appointment of the next army chief should be deferred until the new government is elected, which should then choose the new military head, reported Geo News.
Khan further added that the army chief’s appointment should be based on merit. “Neither Asif Ali Zardari nor Nawaz Sharif is qualified for taking this decision on merit,” he elaborated.
Khan has been making headlines since his ouster in April because of his constant remarks regarding the army chief.
Earlier this month, while speaking during a public rally in Faisalabad, the PTI chairman had called out the government, saying that it was delaying the elections to appoint an army chief of its own and that if a “patriotic chief of army staff comes in, he will not spare the incumbent rulers.”
However, in a change of stance, Khan said that he was ready to hold talks with the coalition government regarding snap polls, reported Geo News.
During the interview, Khan said that he had been involved in politics for the last 26 years and his party had always followed a path which aligns with the country’s Constitution.
Khan, while taking a jibe at the coalition government’s performance, said that the country will be stuck in a quagmire if the incumbent leaders’ tenure is prolonged further, reported Geo News.
Reiterating his “foreign conspiracy” stance, the PTI chief asked, “Those who brought these people after removing our government, I want to ask […] were they thinking of Pakistan? Everyone knows the history of these two families.”
Commenting on the dynastic politics of the Sharif and Zardari families, the PTI chief said that these two families had ruled Pakistan for 32 years, reported Geo News.
“If they had a good track record and were geniuses, then it would have been a different situation but they destroyed the institutions of the country as they were involved in corruption,” he maintained.
Lamenting the impact of floods in Pakistan, the former prime minister said that the 2010 floods as well as the current one have caused immense devastation, particularly in Sindh.
He said that the economic fallout of the floods will be witnessed during the winter season. “Tell me […] do they have a solution? Exports are falling, loans are rising, remittances are falling […] your capacity to give loans is shrinking.”
“The economy is shrinking while unemployment is rising,” Khan maintained, adding that such record high inflation — which clocked in at 27.3 per cent in August — was “never seen before in the history of Pakistan”.
The ousted prime minister hinted that the government will “further raise the electricity prices” as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the coalition government to increase power tariffs, reported Geo News.
Talking about the state of the economy, Khan said that it was on a rapid decline, terming it as the “next challenge.”
Khan also commented on the coalition government’s deal with the IMF and criticised its performance following increasing inflation in the country, reported Geo News.
“[They] signed the IMF programme and increased the cost of petrol and electricity,” Khan said, adding the rupee value continues to decline.
“Given where they are going, I’m afraid the government has no solution,” he remarked as he emphasised how stability in the country was only possible through elections.
Khan said that he warned that the economy would not be handled by conspiracies and that all credit agencies have downgraded them, reported Geo News.
“They could not manage the economy and the stock market plunged,” he said, adding that the government increased the prices of items following IMF’s pressure.
Pakistan needs $30 billion worth of external loans. “Even if we get funds from the World Bank, IMF, and Asian Development Fund we will get $8 billion,” he said, questioning where would Pakistan get the remaining funds from.
The former prime minister said that Pakistan does not have an easy option, “whichever party comes into power will have to face a mountain of problems,” reported Geo News.
Shedding light on PTI’s strategy, Khan said that whenever his party comes back in power, their first step will be to ensure political stability.
“If there is no political stability there can be no economic stability,” he said, adding that the current path the country is heading towards the situation will soon get out of everyone’s hands.
Khan further added that he has received unprecedented respect in the last four months; however, “I am not rushing towards elections for personal interests.”
Khan also accused CEC of “sabotaging the electronic voting machine (EVM) project”, adding that the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) made all efforts to defeat PTI in Punjab’s July 17 polls, reported Geo News.
“I haven’t seen an election commission so biased,” the PTI chief said, narrating the entire episode of the chief election commissioner’s (CEC) appointment.
He also clarified that he is not anti-America, a day after news circulated that the PTI chief met ex-US diplomat Robin Raphel at his Bani Gala residence, reported Geo News.
“I’ve known Robin Raphel for a long time. She is not associated with the government, but is working with a think tank,” he said.
Khan stressed good relations with the US but warned against it being used for personal interests.
“We should not be used like we were used during the war on terror,” he remarked.
The PTI chief added that his party’s relationship with the US was not tense, but tensions arose after Khan visited Russia and President Vladimir Putin attacked Ukraine.

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