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Making Faiz COAS was not on my mind: Imran

Former premier says he didn’t want to control army, as he didn’t fear anyone and had a ‘clean record’

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan told interviewers during a podcast the other day that he never wanted to bring his own chief of army staff (COAS).

Responding to a question about his party’s ties with the establishment, Imran rubbished speculation that he wanted Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed to be the next army chief.

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“I wanted him to continue serving as the director-general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during the difficult winter season when the fallout of the Afghan infighting was imminent… You don’t replace an intelligence chief during difficult circumstances,” he said, and added that instead, there arose speculations that he wanted Lt-Gen Faiz to be the next army chief.

During the interview with Junaid Akram, Muzamil Hasan and Talha Ahad, the PTI chief further said that he couldn’t even think about appointing an army chief against the rules of merit. He also said that, unlike Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif, he never wanted to control the army, as he had a ‘clean record’ and didn’t fear anyone.

The former premier also criticised the policy of “neutrality” of institutions, saying “one is only supporting falsehood if they choose to remain neutral in a battle between truth and falsehood”.

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Further commenting on the reasons for his rift with the establishment, Imran said he wanted to pursue an independent foreign policy whether or not “someone” liked it, nearly three weeks after he was ousted from power after a no-trust vote by parliament.

“My independent foreign policy was clear from day one… If someone didn’t like it, then I don’t know about it,” he said and went on to add that it was his prerogative as the prime minister and the chief executive of the country to pursue the same.

Separately, the former prime minister and PTI chairman told his party’s workers to remain prepared for the long march to Islamabad, saying he would announce the final date any day after May 20.

Addressing a gathering in his hometown, Mianwali, he said a sea of people would reach the capital to demand only one thing – elections.

“Let people decide who will rule us. We will not accept any imported government.”

Imran told his workers that neither the containers placed on the route could stop them from their march, nor Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, who he claimed had committed “18 murders”. He vowed that the nation would not bow before anyone as long as he was alive.

The PTI chairman is conducting a whirlwind series of rallies. According to a tweet by party leader Azhar Mashwani, the next rally would take place in Jhelum on May 10, followed by Attock on May 12, Sialkot on May 14, Faisalabad on May 15 and Chakwal on May 19.

Referring to his former aide Shahbaz Gill’s recent accident, Imran, during his address, today, said he was warning the government that if it touched any PTI worker in the future, he would hold “three stooges and their handlers” responsible.

Talking about his government’s achievements, he said it had reduced the current account deficit for the first time in 11 years, adding that Pakistan was among a few countries to have protected their people from the ramifications of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, there were record remittances and crops, he said.

“[Prime Minister] Shehbaz Sharif, you lodged a false FIR against me, and jailed [MNA] Rashid Shafique [in connection with the Madina incident]. Our women and children will take part in the march in Islamabad. If you try to stop it or lodge a similar FIR, you will be responsible for what will happen,” he warned.

Since all party workers would not be able to reach the capital on the day of the long march, they should instead protest in Mianwali, he said.

“I am calling my sisters, brothers, youth and mothers to the capital because this is the matter of Pakistan. I want every one of you to come to Islamabad to tell this boot-polisher that slavery and the imported government is unacceptable and [demand that he] hold elections.”



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