Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid (PML-Q) leader and Punjab chief minister’s son Moonis Elahi has claimed that his party had been advised by former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa to support Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in the no-confidence motion that ultimately led to former premier Imran Khan’s ouster.
Grueling political uncertainty had ended around midnight when the daylong session of the lower house of parliament convened on April 9 to vote on the no-confidence motion culminated with the dismissal of Imran Khan, the 22nd prime minister of Pakistan, who became the first chief executive to be removed from office after losing majority in the National Assembly.
Speaking on a private TV channel, Moonis Elahi revealed that “there has not been any contact with the new military leadership” however, he added that the former COAS “had turned the tides in favour of PTI”.
“This is my point of contention with PTI and anyone who calls him a traitor,” he continued, “he was seen as perfectly fine when he was going in their support and now he is called a turncoat”.
“I have offered the PTI to come on TV and prove to me that he [Bajwa] is a traitor and I will show you just how much the man did for you.”
He went on to claim that there was “no doubt” about it that “the man had gone all out for you [PTI]”; but the minute he “removed himself then he became the bad guy”.
“If he was the bad guy, he would have never told me to support Imran Khan,” Moonis said.
“When the decision was being taken on which way we have to go, we had received offers from both sides — Mian sahiban [PML-N leadership], the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement), as well as the PTI. Clearly, my inclinations rested towards the PTI, everyone knows that."
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“Then I had a discussion with my father and my father had a conversation with them [the military establishment] and at that time they said ‘my wish is that you go and side with them [PTI]’. Had the man [Gen Bajwa] been so bad, if he was against Khan sahib or PTI, why would he tell us to support that side at that critical juncture?”
“I don’t buy it that he is against PTI,” Moonis added.
Widening cracks in the PML-Q – and the Chaudhry household – had appeared to become more pronounced at the time after two of its key faces were found divided on political lines in the National Assembly.
The simmering tensions, which had been reportedly bubbling for months, turned into an all-out opposition when the PML-Q nominated Chaudhry Hussain Elahi as the leader of the opposition in NA – just hours after the party president Chaudhry Shujaat’s son Chaudhry Salik Hussain was inducted in the cabinet of PM Shehbaz Sharif.
The party now holds seats in both the treasury and opposition benches, fuelling speculations that the intra-party chasms have turned irredeemably sour.
'A little bit of foul play'
Reflecting on the alleged foreign conspiracy that the PTI claims was behind Imran’s ouster, Moonis distanced himself from the narrative saying he “never saw the documents” as he was “not part of the foreign ministry” but said, “there was some foul play for sure from all sides”.
It may be noted here that Imran has long termed the no-confidence motion against him a “huge foreign conspiracy against Pakistan”.
Pleading both the president and the chief justice of Pakistan to take “immediate action”, the ousted premier claimed that in the proceedings of its last cabinet meeting, his government had concluded that the cipher “clearly reflected a regime change conspiracy,” adding that the “shifting allegiances” of the allied parties and the “purchase of loyalties of PTI members” was suspect.
Prior to his retirement, General Bajwa had said he was certain that the “political quarantine of the armed forces” will bode well for the country in the long term.
“Despite some criticism and undue vilification of the armed forces through mass propaganda and meticulously crafted false narratives, the institutional resolve to remain apolitical will remain steadfast. I am certain that this political quarantine of the armed forces will auger well for Pakistan in the long term by fostering political stability and strengthening the army-to-people bond,” he had said in an exclusive interview with Gulf News.
During his interview, however, Moonis said that he “buys” the new stance of the military leadership to remain apolitical “because there is no interference or influence on us [Government of Punjab] by them”.
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He also claimed that the reason an FIR could not be registered against the assassination attempt on the former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan as per his version was not because of any pressure from the 'establishment' but because "we [the Punjab government] had told them that this job will not be done this way" because "if you go and name a person of an institution then the process will be stopped anyway, without any interference".
"This is how the system has been made," he explained, "whether it is good or bad, it exists".
"We asked the PTI leadership to take charge and give us an SHO from a village of their constituency and we will have him appointed [to register the FIR]," Moonis said adding that "nobody gave us one [SHO]".
"The blame was being placed on us that PML-Q is not doing it [FIR], so we gave them the solution," he added.
Despite all disagreements with the PTI however, the PML-Q leader reiterated his party's decision to stand with Imran and dissolve the Punjab Assembly at Imran's request.
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