Former National Assembly speaker Asad Qaiser has said that the then-PTI government’s decision to extend the term of ex-chief of army staff retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa in 2019 was the “wrong decision”, while making a candid admission that they “regret the mistake”.

Qaiser, who also served as the custodian of the lower house of parliament during the PTI’s tenure, was the centre of the weeks-long tussle that ended with the ouster of former premier Imran Khan as the prime minister through a no-confidence vote in April.

The former speaker had resigned from office on April 9 after nominating former speaker Ayaz Sadiq to oversee the proceedings of the National Assembly and conduct the no-trust motion moved by the then-joint opposition which eventually led to the fall of the PTI government.

Qaiser’s admission on Saturday came in an interview to a news channel a week after Gen Bajwa retired after he completed six years at the helm of the army.

He was appointed as the army chief by former prime minister Nawaz Sharif in November 2016. In 2019, then-premier Imran Khan approved an extension in his tenure as COAS for another term — just three months before he was due to retire.

“Everyone [in the party ranks] realising that it was a mistake to grant him (Bajwa) an extension,” he said.

When asked about background discussions leading to the decision, Qaiser responded: “It was the wrong decision, no matter why or how it was taken.”

He, however, added that it was a “collective decision” of all political parties to extend the tenure of the then-army chief. “The political parties have become basically dynastic parties with no roots among the masses,” he said.

Commenting about Imran’s conditional offer for talks with the government, Qaiser said his party was ready for negotiations “provided that elections are a prominent part of the agenda”.

He also expressed displeasure at Faisal Vawda, saying he was provided with everything with exception to him being elevated to Imran’s position.

“But he did not do the right thing,” the ex-NA speaker said.

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