Punjab Chief Minister Pervez Elahi on Sunday revealed that it was former chief of army staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa who asked the Pakistan Muslim League-Q (PML-Q) to side with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) when the no-confidence motion was tabled against then-prime minister Imran Khan.

Elahi’s statement comes after his son and PML-Q leader Moonis Elahi said that the former army chief had urged them to back the PTI.

He maintained that both the PTI and the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) approached them for the PML-Q’s support, however, Gen (retd) Bajwa asked them to support the Khan-led party.

In an interview with a private TV channel, Elahi, endorsing Moonis’ claim, said: “God changed our path at the last moment when they were heading towards PML-N and sent Gen (retd) Bajwa to show us the way.”

He maintained that the retired general advised them that the path towards the Khan-led party is better for them.

Responding to a question, Elahi said that he received offers from both camps — PTI and PDM — but in line with the advice of the former army chief, his party preferred Khan.

The chief minister maintained that his son Moonis had also suggested to side with the PTI.

Commenting on his past experience with the PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, CM Elahi said that there were always apprehensions about the Sharifs “lying”.

“I was with the Sharifs for 18 years, they always lied to us. I would [often] say the Sharifs won’t let me do anything for the province,” he said recalling his discussion with the “institution” on whom to support following the no-confidence motion.

“When we discussed with the institution, they suggested thinking about what was better for us. We consult the institution when a situation arises,” Elahi said, adding that the institution told them that choosing PTI was a “respectable and better option”.

He maintained that it was the institution’s kindness for guiding the PML-Q.

The chief minister asserted that his party has always supported all the chiefs of the institution and never gave a statement against them.

Responding to whether PML-Q’s supremo Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain has had similar encounters with the institution, Elahi said that he has not had any conversation with General (retd) Bajwa.

Punjab’s chief minister said that neither the PTI chief nor the ex-army chief has played a “double game”.

“Circumstances and events leave one in such a place that no way is left to take a decision. The decision could be right or wrong,” he said highlighting that both the PML-Q and Khan’s decision was right.

In response to his stern statement about Khan’s close relations with the establishment, he said: “The thing is, I made the ‘nappy’ remark in anger. It damaged me as well.”

Amid all the political controversy regarding the dissolution of the assemblies as announced by Imran Khan, the Punjab chief minister said that nothing would be happening in the next four months.

He said that the “(PDM government) has its tenure until August and [it is to be seen] how prudently it will tread in these critical times”.

“It will be good if general elections are held early but there is a need that they (PDM government) should agree and even bigger issue is that the chief election commissioner is playing as Imran Khan’s rival,” he added.

“Dialogues are the best option at the time, adding that dissolution of the assembly depends on how the Centre behaves (with the province.)”

He said that till March, talks should be held on reforms and Election Commission.

The people “who matter” will make them sit and talk, adding that what we have committed we will do, Elahi added.

About the row between the Punjab government and the PTI over the first information report (FIR) on the attack on Imran Khan in Wazirabad, the Punjab CM said that the former premier has no grievances against them on the non-registration of the FIR issue. 

“We had asked them to read the Constitution. We cannot register FIR against judges or army officers of this level.”

‘MY BIGGEST MISTAKE’

In an interview on Saturday, Imran admitted for the first time that “giving extension to him [Gen Bajwa] was my biggest mistake.”

“I would trust whatever ex-COAS General Bajwa said. I would tell him that both of us are [thinking about] the country; our purpose is one — to save the country,” Khan added.

The former prime minister added that he didn’t know how he was being lied to and betrayed.

“I knew during the last days and also received a report from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about a game being played,” Khan said, adding that his informant from the IB would notify him verbally and not in writing.

Accusing the ex-army chief of betrayal, Khan said that whenever he asked Bajwa about the conspiracy, he replied that they want continuity.

The former prime minister said that he complained to Bajwa that his allies were hinting that the army was forcing them to change their loyalty and you were saying that forces were “neutral”.

He revealed that leaders from MQM-P and other parties had also told him about the ex-COAS Gen Bajwa’s role.

“We were astonished that they were telling me something else and we were getting other signals from there [allies],” Khan said.

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