Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said he had decided to grant an extension to Pakistan Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa within three months of forming government last year.
Quoting a one-on-one interview with the prime minister, Jang Group journalist Irshad Bhatti said Khan had found the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) to be a balanced individual who was dedicated to democracy and was the “best” Army chief he had ever encountered.
According to Bhatti, Khan said Bajwa had backed his government on the Kartarpur Corridor allowing Indian Sikh pilgrims visa-free access to Pakistan; on parleys with the U.S. government; in dialogue with Middle Eastern allies; and in addressing the prevailing economic situation in Pakistan. The prime minister reportedly also claimed that his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government would never have made any of its strides on the domestic and external fronts without Gen. Bajwa at the helm of the armed forces.
During their wide-ranging conversation, said Bhatti, Khan admitted he had erred in ridiculing Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari as it was not befitting the office of the prime minister but felt that the criticisms the opposition hurled at him during the ‘Azadi March’ sit-in in Islamabad merited a similar response.
P.M. Khan also claimed that the proudest moment of his term as prime minister had been when the Pakistan Air Force shot down an Indian fighter jet intruding into Pakistani airspace. Meanwhile, he told Bhatti, the lowest point thus far had been witnessing the ongoing persecution of the people of India-held Kashmir at the hands of Indian security forces.
According to Bhatti, the prime minister also commented on the ‘Azadi March’ launched by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUIF) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, saying the government had not cut any deal to convince the cleric to call off his dharna in the federal capital. “Fazl kept the people there by offering them money,” Bhatti quoted the premier as saying.