- Sep 26, 2018
Former army chief General (retd) Qamar Bajwa has revealed, in a reported interview with a local media outlet, that he was not responsible for the disqualification of former prime minister and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif.
Bajwa was asked if he was responsible for disqualifying Nawaz when his case was heard by the Supreme Court. He replied that the apex court had begun hearings on the Panama Papers during PTI's second long march before he became the army chief.
He maintained that the army could not influence everything and that the SC itself was doing “a lot of things”.
The former army chief was then asked if former ISI chief General Faiz Hameed could pull off the feat by himself, to which the ex-COAS stated that “when you are asking someone to do eight things, and if he does ten, you cannot ask him”. He added that the phenomenon occurred all over the world with intelligence agencies doing many things of their own free will.
The interviewer again questioned if Bajwa disqualified Nawaz, and his answer remained the same.
“It was the decision of the five judges of the Supreme Court. When the judges give an order, what can you do? Justice Khosa also had a personal enmity with the Sharif family. Shahbaz Sharif divorced Justice Khosa's sister in the nineties,” claimed the former army chief in the interview..
He questioned how he could disqualify Nawaz when the PML-N leader was responsible for making him the army chief. He added that Nawaz was always “good and decent” with him and that the army had “nothing to do with Nawaz Sharif’s disqualification”.
Bajwa said that the SC had assigned the task of bringing evidence to the army, therefore the evidence was provided by the army. He said that General (retd) Asim Munir had good relations with Arab countries, and was sent by him to the UAE and brought back the iqama which became the basis of Nawaz's disqualification.
The interviewer then asked if the UAE was 'angry' with Nawaz for not supporting them in the Yemen war and thus gave Nawaz's iqama.
The former top soldier replied that there was no such thing and the iqama was given because it was found.
“When the Panama case was going on in the court, [former premier] Shahid Khaqan Abbasi came to me and took me to Daman hill. We sat there for three hours. He said that we must help Nawaz in the Panama case. I said that I can't help him much because he has made a lot of mistakes,” he narrated, reiterating that Sharif made several mistakes in the case.
He stated that Chaudhry Nisar had also forbidden Nawaz from writing a letter to the Supreme Court for a joint investigation team (JIT) and urged him not to include ISI and MI officers in the JIT, but Nawaz did not agree to this.
“I also sent a message to four or five people to ask Nawaz to oppose the inclusion of army officers in the JIT, but Nawaz was very confident and did not agree. Nawaz was sure that he had all the documents. He also wanted to stop the army for his honesty. But the problem was that if Nawaz Sharif was acquitted, all the rubble would fall on the army,” Bajwa said.
He continued that the SC decided to form a JIT, so he called the Director-General ISI (DG-ISI) and said that the army should get out of this case, but the DG contended that their involvement was an order from the SC.
The interviewer inquired how the disqualification occurred and if there were any 'just judges' in the SC.
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He replied that the army was fair too, adding that generals were also fair before some were “in love with Imran Khan”.
“However, due to three reasons, I was under pressure during the time of PML-N. When the PML-N government came, it imposed Article 6 on Musharraf. Then the Panama Papers came, and the “thief prime minister” was criticised everywhere in the media. Then there was pressure from within the army due to the withdrawal of Dawn Leaks' tweet. After the withdrawal of Dawn Leaks' tweet, Maryam Nawaz's strategic media cell claimed that the army had retreated for a second time since 1971,” he said, adding that these were the reasons he could not help Nawaz much.
The interviewer then inquired if Shahid Khaqan Abbasi would leave the PML-N, to which Bajwa said that he would not and that Abbasi was a very capable man who did a “great job” as the prime minister. He added that Abbasi also understood the economy very well.
When asked about the Dawn Leaks, Bajwa said that after he became the chief of the army and went to meet the premier at the prime minister’s house, there was “a lot of talk of the Dawn leaks”.
“One thing the political parties do not understand is that the army chief was very important, and the army never compromised on its former army chief. When Article 6 was imposed on General Musharraf, the army turned against Nawaz and then the army even saved Musharraf. Musharraf would sometimes disappear on the way to court and then would arrive at the hospital,” he said.
Discussing “his side of the story” about the Dawn leaks, the ex-COAS said that when he became the army chief and went to meet Nawaz, Nisar said Dawn leaks must be brought to a logical conclusion, meaning a complete end to the inquiry – which Bajwa agreed to.
Later, Nisar reiterated the same statement, after which Bajwa called then DG-ISI Naveed Mukhtar and asked for the result of the Dawn Leaks inquiry. He stated that Mukhtar said there was some evidence that journalist Cyril Almeida spoke to Pervez Rasheed on the phone for 70 minutes, but the conversation was not known.
Bajwa stated that in fact, there was “nothing” in the Dawn Leaks, but wherever he went, junior officers used to ask questions.
“After that, I spoke to Chaudhry Nisar and Ishaq Dar that they send the case of journalists to CPNE because I did not want to touch the hornet’s nest”.
He continued that it was decided to take administrative action against the rest, after which he went to Nawaz and tried to convince him to let Pervez Rasheed go, which he [Nawaz] ultimately agreed to and it was decided that Pervez Rasheed and Tariq Fatemi would be removed from their posts. He added that the case of the journalists will be sent to the CPNE and departmental action would be taken against the rest.
“However, a day later, I went to Lahore, and suddenly the notification of Dawn Leaks started playing on another news channel. The channel started saying that the government did not punish the co-accused and the government issued an incomplete notification”.
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Bajwa added that the media put a lot of pressure on the army and he called General (retd) Asif Ghafoor, who on his own accord issued a tweet that the notification was 'rejected'.
“On the same day I was supposed to go to Fata, I left, and immediately after that, I got a call that the prime minister wanted to meet me. When I reached the prime minister's house, Nawaz Sharif came out and welcomed me. I thought he would be angry and express some displeasure, but he did not say anything”.
Bajwa said that at the end of the meeting, Nawaz only requested that he [Bajwa] should not make decisions in anger.
“It occurred to me that something had gone wrong. Two days later the premier was to go to China. Now generals and political leaders started coming to me saying that I should not take back the tweet,” he added that Khawaja Asif and other Muslim Leaguers came and said he should not withdraw the tweet.
“But I could not send the prime minister of the country to China in an inferior position. What would be the status of such a prime minister in China who did not even have his army at his disposal, so the tweet was withdrawn”.
The interviewer stated that it was said that General (retd) Naveed Mukhtar was a gentleman and was not too powerful while General Faiz did all the work. He questioned if this was because Bajwa gave authority and power to Faiz.
The former army chief stated that this was the case and that they were obsessed with “bringing in” PTI chief Imran Khan.
“It was said that the Dawn Leaks issue was created by General Raheel Sharif to get an extension and that there was nothing actually in it. When Dawn discussed the leaks with Nawaz, he said that whenever General Raheel and General Rizwan Akhtar came for a meeting, they used to talk about the extension of General Raheel Sharif”.
Bajwa continued that Rizwan told Nawaz in front of General Raheel to give a three-year extension to General Raheel, but after Raheel left, he told Nawaz to give only one-year extension, because Rizwan was next in line after Raheel.
The interviewer asked how Bajwa forgave Rizwan and Asim Bajwa, to which the former COAS said he would forgive whoever came before him.
“I wanted to remove General Rizwan from ISI and give him command, but I got reports that he was constantly interfering in politics. Two or three times his actions were reported and some of them had corruption issues. Thus he was dismissed,” he elaborated.
He stated that Asim Bajwa asked for forgiveness, therefore he was forgiven and given Southern Command. He added that incumbent COAS Asim Munir often said that Bajwa forgave people, but he [Gen Munir] did not forgive anyone.
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Bajwa said that Asim Bajwa had placed Raheel Sharif on the verge of becoming a hero, although not a single bullet was fired in Zarb-e-Azb.
“Then General Raheel Sharif started a campaign against corruption. After the Panama Papers emerged, I was also under pressure because of this campaign”.
He said that during the Panama trial, he sent a message through Shujaat Azim and Chaudhry Munir to Nawaz asking him to resign to avoid being disqualified, so he could be re-elected as premier during the next elections.
“It was a very sincere suggestion from my side as I was repeatedly approached by sympathizers of the PML-N”.
He continued that PML-N leaders had convinced Nawaz to resign but Maryam Nawaz forbade him from doing so.
“For a man to fight tomorrow it is necessary to live today. To win, one must take a step back, which Nawaz Sharif did not,” he said adding that he had not spoken to Nawaz or met him for the past five years, except to condole him on the death of his spouse.
When asked if Maryam Nawaz was released by him, Bajwa denied the claim and said that the cases against Maryam were weak.
Bajwa says 'not responsible' for Nawaz's disqualification | The Express Tribune
Former COAS tells all in interview; comments on removal of Nawaz, Dawn leaks