In interview, Pakistan’s prime minister claims he has not yet decided whether or not to grant another extension in tenure of incumbent Army chief
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s image has suffered due to its defeat in the first phase of the local government elections in Khyber-Pakhtunkwha, Prime Minister Imran Khan admitted in an interview with a private broadcaster on Thursday.
Terming the PTI’s performance in the local body polls as a “big loss,” Khan told Dunya TV’s Khawar Ghumman that he was nonetheless confident of electoral success in Punjab province due to the performance of the government led by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. He also reiterated his stance that the party’s losses were linked to organizational failures, and not because it had lost its vote bank in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
According to Ghumman, the prime minister said he had not yet considered whether or not to grant another extension in the tenure of incumbent Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. “The current year has just started and November is far away. Then why there is worry about extension in the tenure of the Army chief,” he said, adding that he had an “unprecedented” relationship with the military leadership.
To a question on rumors—denied by military spokesman Maj. Gen. Babar Iftikhar—of a potential “deal” between the opposition Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) and the security establishment to oust the PTI-led government, Khan claimed he was not under any pressure. He claimed his government had the full support of its coalition partners and would complete its five-year tenure.
However, he stressed, the next three months were “very important” for his government. He said the government hoped to control rampant inflation and provide relief to citizens within this time.
To another question, the prime minister claimed his government’s biggest failure had been failure to ensure accountability for “corrupt” politicians due to “weak” prosecution. He claimed that the National Accountability Bureau kept taking cases to court but had failed to ensure their conclusion. In proceedings on various NAB-related issues, courts have repeatedly pointed out insufficient evidence and questioned NAB’s apparent political victimization of the government’s opponents.
Khan claimed that this trend might reverse in the near future, as Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif was facing a fresh case from the Federal Investigation Agency that he hoped would result in conviction.
The prime minister said he did not fear the opposition’s claims of bringing a no confidence against the government. “They can do so,” he said, adding that he did not feel any threat from “corrupt parties.”