Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan has admitted that he was helpless regarding the accountability drive as it was former army chief General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa who was pulling the strings.

“There is a law of the jungle in Pakistan. All the thieves are sitting at the helm of affairs. As soon as they came to power, the first thing they did was finish corruption cases against them. The corruption cases of all the thieves are ending one by one,” Imran said while addressing the Rule of Law Conference of lawyers via video link.

Later, talking to a senior journalist, Imran said: “Gen (retd) Bajwa has proven to be worse than an enemy. He did not damage me, rather I should be thankful to him for turning things around for the PTI, but he damaged Pakistan with his policies.”

He said former army chief lied to me about the accountability drive. “I kept asking him for three long years regarding the slow pace of the accountability drive, however, he kept assuring me that these cases would culminate soon. It was after one-and-a-half years that I met a NAB (without naming any person) official who told me that it was the former general who had instructed to stall the cases and opt for a go-slow policy.”

Imran said, “when I got to know about the scheme, I offered him an extension and informed him of the economic cost of his misadventure.”

He said that in hindsight, extension was a bad idea and “I will abolish this law, once I am in power”.

He said they hoped that the establishment would remain neutral, explaining that his earlier statement regarding neutral being animals was in a different context.

He said that cases against Shehbaz Sharif were open and shut cases, but the hearing on which charges were to be framed were delayed almost indefinitely on one pretext or the other.

“First these people got immunity aka NRO from General (retd) Pervez Musharraf and later they gave themselves an NRO with the NAB amendment.”

He said this does not happen anywhere else in the world. “They gave themselves a clean chit via an assembly amendment. First, an NRO allowed Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari to walk free in Hudaibiya Paper Mills and Sara-e-Mehl cases.

The Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid wants the assembly to continue, but they “will stand by our decision of dissolving the assemblies come what may”, PTI chief Imran Khan said, clarifying that those who think the assemblies will not be dissolved, should wait for my Saturday (today) rally.

Imran said, “I will give a date for the dissolution of assemblies at the rally as there has been no breakthrough in talks and no dialogue can commence sans a date for elections.”

On rumours regarding postponing the announcement of the dissolution date to February, he quipped, “If assemblies are to be dissolved in February, then why haste, why not wait for August.”

He said that the country needed elections at the earliest at all costs.

Replying to a question whether the country can afford to go to elections, he said, “What other option do we have. This government has no roadmap. The more we wait the more the economic situation will worsen.”

He accused the ECP of siding with the PDM during the by-elections, saying that as much as 10,000 additional votes were cast in their names to brighten the chances of the PDM candidates.

He said the opposition built a wrong impression that the PTI government sullied relations with brotherly and friendly countries. He said ideal relations with all countries, including America, were on full display during the PTI’s tenure. He said his visits to America and Russia were proof of that. He said that relations strained with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for a brief while owing to Malaysia conference, but later returned to normal.

He said the former COAS wanted cordial ties with India at any cost. However, he said, “I informed him that after the change in status of Kashmir, we cannot normalise relations, as doing so will put the Kashmir cause on the backburner and will be akin to dishonouring the sacrifices of Kashmiris.”

He said, “Our foreign policy should be based on what benefits the people of Pakistan. No compromise should be made in devising the foreign policy.”

He said they would have implemented their economic plan, if “Corona hadn’t griped the entire world”. Despite Covid-19, “our growth rate, remittances, large scale industrial growth and GDP were much better than they are now”.

After 70 years, the “only thing they have on me, is selling my own watch”, Imran quipped. He said, “The Toshakhana gifts either get purchased or auctioned. They are never meant for the people of Pakistan.” He said that this case was nothing short of a joke.

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