Imran Khan has finally found someone that he can blame for all his woes. General Qamar Javed Bajwa, his former benefactor, has now turned into a villain.
In a recent interview with The New Yorker, he repeatedly threw Bajwa under the bus and repeated the same accusations in a subsequent interview with the Voice of America (VOA).
Both interviews revealed many things about the man who governed Pakistan as prime minister for three-and-a-half years from 2018 to 2021. Thirteen revelations are noteworthy.
First, he comes across not only as a self-righteous man who believes he has always done the right thing but also a man who feels qualified to run the country because his intentions are noble and his slate is clean of moral and financial crimes.
He says he did not have to enter politics after he retired from an incredible career in cricket. He was a sporting legend and could have indulged in the life of a celebrity, socialised with the high and mighty, and occasionally appeared on TV. But a sense of duty drove him into politics to save the nation.
Second, he is convinced he will win the next elections, if they are fair and unrigged. There is no doubt that the current government has failed to deliver on its promises. His chances rise with every blunder they make. He held dozens of mass rallies last year until he was shot and wounded in his leg. He remains a charismatic figure for millions but a narcissist at heart. As evidence of his popularity, he says that since he was deposed, his party has won 35 by-elections, a 75 percent success rate, despite “the establishment standing with the opposition”.
In his interview with the VOA, he was asked if he would accept the results if he lost the elections. He responded by saying he would only lose if the elections are rigged. He went on to say that the election commission has no credibility. He suspects the elections will not be fair but refused to say what he would do since that would be premature. “How can I say right now the extent of rigging they’ll do. There was a local government election in Sindh, all the political parties rejected the local government election, all of them… there will be rigging but the extent? I can’t say right now.”
Third, he is convinced that the US will ignore his criticisms of American interference and give him a clean sheet because international relations are not based on personal egos – and because the majority of Pakistanis want good ties with the US, which is after all the country’s biggest trading partner.
Fourth, he believes that the only reason he was ousted from power was because the army chief at that time, General Bajwa, did not like him. He had a close relationship with Shehbaz Sharif, the current prime minister, who Imran believes is corrupt to the core.
Fifth, the military in Pakistan simply means “one man, the army chief”. The relationship between the military and the civilian government depends on that one man. Since Bajwa retired, Imran has been throwing Bajwa under the bus.
Until Bajwa retired from the army, he did not once attack Bajwa by name. Instead, he referred to the military as the neutrals, in the plural, not in the singular. If the army was the work of only one man, he should have used the singular word.
Sixth, he has now realised he needs to reset his relations with the military. Without their support, he will not return to office. By personalising his animus with Bajwa, who is no longer in the army, he is hoping to regain the army’s support, which was vital to his becoming prime minister in 2018. He says, “Today, the Army is the only organized institution in our country. It is the only institution that has not been tampered with or weakened.” Imran does not realise he just contradicted himself. How could the army be the noble institution he just made it out to be if it was just one man, the army chief?
Seventh, he is also hoping to reset ties with the US by absolving them of the regime change conspiracy theory. He is now saying that Bajwa exported regime change to the US. The US would not have done it without the invitation coming from Bajwa. Imran’s duplicitous conduct and dissembling rhetoric are on blatant display.
Philosophising about the purpose of life and what happens after death are noble pursuits but they are nothing else but a convenient distraction for a man who failed
to deliver in his first term.
Eighth, since he has lived in both England and Pakistan, he is in a position to “compare and contrast life in Pakistan with life in England. And what struck me most were two things. One was the welfare state. Second, and most important, was the rule of law, because in Pakistan we had martial law and military rule, which means that the military is above the constitution and above the law. Half the time, we had these two crooked families—mafia families—running Pakistan.”
Ninth, he failed to eliminate corruption in Pakistan which he had promised he would do during his election campaign because the National Accountability Bureau was directly controlled by General Bajwa. Thus, his desire to create a welfare state in Pakistan was thwarted by just one man, who ultimately “engineered” his downfall and “brought the two families on again to rule us.”
Tenth, he claimed there was press freedom during his tenure, even though press freedom declined measurably during his tenure.
Eleventh, he was quoted in the West as saying the Taliban had broken the shackles of slavery. He had spoken in Urdu and meant something else. He had meant to say that “Afghanistan has freed itself, but that is not as bad—it’s nothing compared with mental slavery, which is what we are suffering from.”
Twelfth, he is not hypocritical, when he blames the West for Islamophobia and absolves China’s mistreatment of its Muslim population. Since Pakistan is a developing country heavily dependent on aid from China, he cannot bring up this sensitive topic with them in public: “Any moral statement about Uyghurs in China can affect the lives of the vulnerable people” of Pakistan.
Thirteenth, his life is unique since he’s lived in two countries. Thus, “I’m probably better placed to understand and communicate about our culture to Western culture because I know how the West looks at our culture. And, to people here, I can communicate what the West is like.”
He went on to say that as he grew up, his ideas kept on changing. “The best way I can describe it is that I probably have challenged myself more than any other human being… But I challenged myself. I have found that people who challenge themselves are like mountain climbers. The more they challenge themselves, it’s like the higher they get, the more they see.”__The Friday Times