PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi has said the allegations levelled by PTI chief Imran Khan against former army chief retired General Qamar Javed Bajwa were about violations of the Constitution, suggesting that the ousted premier could pursue his claims legally under Article 6 – high treason – against the former military head.
Abbasi made these remarks while speaking to a private television channel. The remarks from the ex-PM come a day after the PTI chairman called for an internal military inquiry against Bajwa for his alleged “admission” about being involved in the PTI government’s ouster.
The general’s version was published in a column by Javed Chaudhry recently, in which he termed the PTI “dangerous for the country” and that graft cases against Imran-era finance minister Shaukat Tarin were quashed with then-DG ISI Faiz Hameed’s assistance.
The former PML-N stalwart said Article 6 was clear about the alleged violation of the Constitution. It states: “Any person who abrogates or subverts or suspends or holds in abeyance, or attempts or conspires to abrogate or subvert or suspend or hold in abeyance, the Constitution by use of force or show of force or by any other unconstitutional means shall be guilty of high treason.”
Abbasi said the inquiry Imran was requesting was [actually] one of Article 6. “If Imran Khan thinks the Constitution was violated, he should file an Article 6 petition,” he added. “It is his right.”
He said that Bajwa sahib indeed said that Imran Khan was given support to “complete his numbers”.
“If investigations are to be conducted then it should be against everyone and we must go back to 1947 to hold probe from the start. If the PM or his finance minister is asking the army to quash their cases, this is concerning.”
“When he became a part of the process, then he is equally responsible as others. He also got support in completing his numbers in the confidence vote. The probe must be held into it but inquiries are not held this way. The army and the government have their own systems. The request Imran is making pertains to Article 6, hence he should file a petition.”
He was of the view that Imran made so many accusations that which allegation should be taken seriously. Abbasi underlined that words carried weight when spoken on the right occasion.
“What is the narrative of Imran Khan? Insulting each other?” he wondered.
Asked if he would file a plea if the Constitution was violated, he responded: “I don’t think and I don’t have any information that someone violated the Constitution. Imran believes it, hence he should file a plea.”
He said whoever got illegitimate support was wrong. Abbasi alleged that political parties did not want to go along with Imran, however, he claimed “Bajwa sahib asked them to support the PTI chief in the confidence vote.”
To another question, he welcomed the absence of army from polling stations, adding Rangers and police could be utilised strictly for law and order purposes.
The former premier said the Election Commission of Pakistan would have to justify delaying the elections in public as well in the courts.
The former premier recalled that he had a position that he relinquished in 2019 to pave the way for Maryam Nawaz so she could work “openly”.
He said he fully respects the views of Capt (retd) Safdar, the husband of PML-N vice president.
He also defended former finance minister Miftah Ismail, who is an integral part of “Reimagining Pakistan” campaign, against criticism from different quarters.
The group leading the campaign comprises political mavericks – including Miftah, Abbasi, ex-senator Mustafa Nawaz Khokhar and former Balochistan chief minister Aslam Raisani – who are holding a series of nationwide seminars on the current challenges being faced by the country in an effort to develop a consensus on the future course of action required to be taken by all stakeholders to bring Pakistan out of the present mess.
“Miftah did not criticise the party [PML-N], he called out the economic system,” Abbasi said in reference to recent statements by the former finance minister that reflected his alleged differences with the PML-N. He stressed that national interest must be prioritised over personal interest.
To a question, Abbasi said only the nation could answer Maryam’s desire to become the prime minister of the country.
He also denied having any information about former COAS Bajwa’s alleged support to the ruling coalition – the Pakistan Democratic Movement.
In response to a query about Nawaz Sharif’s expected return to the country, Abbasi said doctors treating the PML-N supremo could comment on it.
“However, the absence of Mian Nawaz Sharif has damaged the party,” he said.