Gen Faiz as COAS was dreaded by my opponents

PTI chief claims Nawaz Sharif wants to control state institutions to protect his corruption, looted wealthSays US wants Pakistan to forget Kashmir and accept Israel

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday said that the parties in the coalition government were “afraid” that he would appoint Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed as the next chief of army staff (COAS).

“They were afraid that I wanted to appoint Lt Gen Faiz. They feared that if that would have happened then it would shatter their future,” the PTI chairman said while hitting out at the government during a seminar on “Regime Change Conspiracy and Pakistan’s Destabilization”, held in Islamabad.

The ousted premier said the incumbent rulers were “afraid of the army and the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)”, as they knew that their “corruption” would be caught at some point.

“Imran Khan does not want to save his corruption, he does not want to appoint his army chief,” said the PTI leader. “I never thought of appointing someone as the army chief. I have never taken a decision that is not based on merit,” he said. The PTI chairman berated the incumbent rulers for allegedly “murdering the institutions” and appointing “their people” to every institution. The ousted premier alleged that Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif had looted the nation’s wealth and he wanted to control the state institutions to protect his corruption.

He said he had said long ago when he came into power that both Nawaz Sharif and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari would join hands “because they have the same interests”. Moving on to the “regime change conspiracy”, Imran said that the United States did not change regimes for a country’s betterment. “It only does that for its interests, not ours,” he added.

He said that in the past, the US had used Pakistan for the “war on terror”, which resulted in heavy casualties to Islamabad, while its airbases were also used for drone attacks.

“Our interest is that our soil is not used against Afghanistan or any other country. America wanted us to accept India’s demands. It wanted us to forget Kashmir and accept Israel,” he said. Imran said US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Donald Lu “arrogantly threatened” Pakistan, and wondered whether a “sovereign nation” could accept such threats. The PTI chairman said he was aware of the “conspiracy” to oust his government. “People ask me that if I knew about it then why I didn’t do anything? Well, I never imagined that they would appoint Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister.”

The PTI chief, addressing the “neutrals”, said Shehbaz had been booked in corruption cases worth Rs16 billion. He said the measures being taken today would lead the country toward destruction as a “circus” was going on in Punjab and the judiciary now had immense responsibility. Talking to the participants of the seminar, former finance minister Shaukat Tarin said the government was formed not for providing relief to the people, but to get the rulers “freedom from National Accountability Bureau (NAB).”

In a scathing attack on the government, Tarin said it was so “incompetent” that later this month, a mini-budget was expected – after it reaches an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

On Tuesday night, Pakistan and the IMF evolved a broader agreement on the budget 2022-23 to revise upward the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) target and slash down the expenditures to achieve a revenue surplus in the next fiscal year. They are expected to reach an agreement soon. The former finance minister said there were rumours of a further Rs50 per litre hike in the price of petrol, which would exacerbate the burden on the masses who were already getting the commodity at Rs234.

In his address, PTI Senior Vice President Chaudhry Fawad said Energy Minister Khurram Dastagir had admitted in a television programme that the coalition government came into power to end their cases. Last week, during an interview with a private channel, Dastagir had admitted that the coalition government leaders knew that there would be disqualifications on a massive level by the end of this year if things continued in line with Imran Khan’s plans.