n PTI chief explains he only talked about deferring new army chief’s appointment till next govt takes power n Hints to give a protest call by end of September to force govt to announce early elections n Claims govt is too weak to work without ‘powerful establishment’.

ISLAMABAD   -   Former prime minister Imran Khan Tuesday created a commotion by saying that he never talked about giving an extension in services to the incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

In his informal talk to journalists here at his residence in Bani Gala, Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan said that he had only talked about deferment of the appointment of next Army Chief till the new government seizes power as a result of the fresh general elections. 

He reiterated his stance that the appointment of new Army Chief should be deferred till the election of the next government and added that he was against “the tradition of appointing a man of anyone’s choice contrary to merit.”

A day earlier, Khan in an interview with anchorperson Kamran Khan that was broadcast on a private TV channel, had said that the next elected government voted to power as a result of a “free and fair elections” should appoint the new COAS and some legal provision could be found to make this arrangement work.

Appointed in 2016, COAS Gen Bajwa is set to retire in the last week of November after completing his two successive terms.

The PTI chief in the interview had avoided directly answering the repeated questions of the anchorperson whether he is asking for the extension in services of incumbent COAS and had said that he did not know about this and legal experts could tell better about this. “I have been told by lawyers that in the better interest of the country, a provision can be found that the next government appoints the COAS,” he had also said.

Khan has consistently opposed the appointment of next Army Chief by the incumbent government led by Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), a multi-party coalition.

However, the analysts and the anchorperson Kamran Khan, who interviewed Khan, interpreted the remarks of the former prime minister in a way that he was asking for an extension in services to Army Chief till the new government takes charge.

In his informal talk, the chairman PTI said that some people put the security of the country at stake for their vested interests and brought the multi-party coalition into power through a conspiracy. “I might disclose their names in public,” he said adding, “Any institution who serves the interest of the country, I stand by him,” Khan was quoted as saying this in his conversation.

Khan also hinted that he can give a protest call at the end of September to force the present government to announce the early elections. “They are pushing me to the extent that I would have to give the call (of protest),” he said.

He also rejected the calls of holding an election in March of next year and said that the general polls should be held in December. He added that the biggest issue of the country was holding free and fair elections. “This is altogether unacceptable that the election should be dragged till March, next year.”

The Chairman PTI went on to say that he was least feared about his arrest and had put some books in his bag to be read while in jail. Khan said whosoever would go against the interest of the country, he would stand against him. He said that the present government was too weak to work without the powerful establishment.

Khan said that the PTI’s governments in the provinces of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were weak enough because these were without help of the “boot”. 

He also said that the system of Pakistan’s intelligence agencies to collect information was not correct because they were giving reports that the people were unhappy during the PTI regime due to inflation. But they stood by PTI after it lost power, he further said. “I am avoiding giving a protest call because I fear that people would get out of control if they come on roads,” he said.

While responding to a question, he said that a merit-based system should be devised and enforced in the judiciary and army to make appointments. To another question, the ex-premier said that he was waiting anxiously for the return of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Nawaz Sharif.

Separately, Senior Vice President PTI Fawad Chaudhry in a statement said that the party chief Imran Khan presented a workable and practical formula for the country’s political future and the restoration of democracy. 

He suggested that it was high time to move forward on this formula, as the country’s abysmal economic condition would not be able to carry the burden of the political instability anymore.

Chaudhry stated that the status quo of the establishment could be maintained till fresh general elections were held.

Talking about the appointment of new Army Chief, the PTI leader and former federal minister Dr. Shireen Mazari in a twitter statement said that anchorperson Kamran Khan and PML-N trolls deliberately tried to misquote what Imran Khan said regarding the appointment of COAS.

“Problem here is when the anchor wants to assert his own view and agenda despite Khan making his position clear on the same issue. Such anchors should do monologues instead,” she added.