Stressing that he will not accept the legitimacy of the incumbent government “no matter what,” Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday reiterated claims that the only reason for his ouster was the opposition’s “fear” of their future if he remained in power.
“They [former opposition] were afraid that I wanted to appoint [former ISI chief] Lt. Gen. Faiz [as Army chief]. They feared that if that would have happened then it would shatter their future,” he told the audience of a PTI-sponsored seminar, “Regime Change Conspiracy and Pakistan’s Destabilization.”
Claiming that the coalition parties comprising the incumbent government were “afraid” of the Army and the Inter-Services Intelligence because they would discover their “corruption,” he said that he had no reason to seek any specific postings as “Imran Khan does not want to protect his corruption.”
Last week, energy minister Khurram Dastgir-Khan of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) had told an interviewer that the parties comprising the incumbent government had agreed to oust Khan because they had “credible” reports that he planned to establish a “single-party” state in Pakistan by jailing all rival politicians en masse and imposing a presidential system. Addressing the longstanding reports of his desire to install Faiz Hameed as the next Army chief, Khan claimed that he not considered anyone for the slot during his time as prime minister. “I had planned to appoint the next Army chief on the basis of merit,” he claimed, and accused the incumbent rulers of trying to “murder institutions” by appointing “their own people.”
Reiterating his allegations of a U.S.-backed “regime change conspiracy” against his government, the ousted prime minister said Washington did not “change regimes” for any country’s betterment, only for their own interests. Lamenting that the U.S. had previously “used” Pakistan for the war on terror, he said this had resulted in massive casualties through drone attacks and terrorism.
“I am not anti-America, I want to have good relations with the U.S., but I cannot let them use us like tissue papers. The U.S. wants us to recognize Israel and not talk about Kashmir so that India is strengthened, to curtail China’s power,” he claimed, without offering any evidence, per routine.
Rubbishing his own narrative of him only learning of the “conspiracy” after receiving a diplomatic cable from Pakistan’s then-ambassador to the U.S., Khan said he had been aware of the “conspiracy” to oust his government for several months. “People ask me if I knew about it, why didn’t I do anything? Well, I never imagined that they would appoint Shehbaz Sharif as the prime minister,” he said, adding that he had told the “neutrals”—a reference to the Army and its stated desire to be kept out of politics—that the incumbent prime minister was facing corruption cases worth Rs. 16 billion.
“Pakistan is standing at a crossroads; people will have to choose between the difficult path of real independence or being ruled by this cabal of crooks and dacoits,” he said, and reiterated claims of the Election Commission of Pakistan having lost its credibility and being unable to conduct free, fair and peaceful elections—perceived by observers as an attempt to set the stage for any potential electoral losses—adding that this was dangerous for the democratic process.
In addition to the ousted prime minister, the seminar was also addressed by other PTI leaders who all repeated Khan’s claims of a “foreign conspiracy” and voiced unproven allegations of the incumbent government wanting to place Pakistan’s sovereignty at the disposal of foreign powers.