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When Gen Bajwa resigned


Sep 26, 2018
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United Kingdom
United Kingdom
Inside details of fateful meetings, phone calls leading up to Gen Bajwa saying he resigns revealed for the first time

It was a dry morning of October 7, 2021, when the former prime minister’s principal secretary received an urgent call. The person on the other side was none other than the then army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa wanting to speak with the then Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Told that the premier was in a meeting, Gen Bajwa went on to drop a bombshell that sent the government into a panic mode. “Tell the prime minister I am resigning. The prime minister has one week to appoint the new army chief.”

Bajwa hung up the phone as the then Principal Secretary Azam Khan pleaded with him not to resign.

Left shell-shocked, Azam immediately took up the phone and informed the then Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Faiz Hameed about Bajwa’s decision.

The following hour saw corps commanders and other senior officers surrounding the top military boss beseeching him to stay.

Meanwhile, the air in the Prime Minister Office was also thick with panic and nervous energy.

The details are being made public for the first time based on The Express Tribune’s interactions with the people familiar with the developments.

None were willing to speak on record due to the sensitive nature of the events.

The whisperings about Gen Bajwa’s resignation surfaced in March 2021 when he held a meeting with Imran, who had just secured a vote of confidence from the National Assembly.

The embattled prime minister had been propelled to seek a trust vote after the then Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh lost the Senate elections.

The vote proved to be a cakewalk for Imran as he pulled off a victory, thanks to the much-needed help from the establishment that rounded up members of the National Assembly by hook or by crook.

During the fateful meeting, Gen Bajwa broke the new rules of the game to Imran, telling him in clear terms that the establishment would no longer do political management for his government.

“From now onwards, the establishment will stick to its role defined in the Constitution and law.”

The army chief then informed the premier that Gen Faiz should be relieved of his current duty for which Imran sought one month.

When Gen Bajwa reminded him a month later, he sought more time.

Then came October and Gen Bajwa finally told him that the reshuffle had to take place without further delay because otherwise, this would disturb the process of posting and transfers in the army.

Imran was informed that if General Faiz was to be eligible for the post of army chief, he had to command a corps for a year.

The PM suggested that Gen Bajwa changed that rule, something that led to a heated exchange between the two.

“This is not the Punjab Police, Mr Prime Minister,” Bajwa reminded Imran and the meeting ended abruptly.

However, a few hours later, Gen Bajwa was informed by his office that the prime minister agreed to his proposal for a change of guard at the ISI.

The go-ahead led to the statement of ISPR where it announced the appointment of a new DG ISI.

But the next morning, the then Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry issued a statement saying that the prime minister had the prerogative to appoint the DG ISI.

His statement indicated that the appointment was made without the prime minister’s consent.

When Gen Bajwa saw that news, he was furious.

He called the Prime Minister Office to speak to Imran but he wasn’t available. However, he conveyed his decision to his principal secretary about his resignation.

Gen Bajwa, however, withdrew his resignation after being persuaded by the corps commanders and approached by the PM Office.

Imran invited him to his Bani Gala residence to sort out the issue. The two reached a compromise.

Bajwa agreed with Imran’s proposal to keep Gen Faiz DG ISI for a few more weeks in return for the prime minister agreeing with the nominee of the army chief. The deadlock ended but the relationship between Gen Bajwa and Imran has never been the same again.

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