ISLAMABAD: Former speaker of the National Assembly Asad Qaiser said on Saturday that extending General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa's tenure in 2019 was a mistake, but it was a collective decision of all political parties.
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader, according to The News, admitted that they now regret the decision. He said, “Everyone [in the party] has now realised that the extension was a mistake.”
However, he added that the extension was a “collective decision” of all political parties. When asked about background discussions leading to the decision, Qaiser said, “It was the wrong decision, no matter why or how it was taken.”
The PTI leader added that political parties have become dynasties with no roots among the people.
Commenting about Imran Khan's conditional offer for talks with the government, Qaiser said they are ready for negotiations if early elections are a part of the agenda.
In an interview with a private TV channel on Saturday, the PTI chief also admitted that extending the tenure of the former COAS was not the correct decision. He termed the decision as his "biggest mistake".
Khan said that he would trust whatever ex-COAS General Bajwa said. "I would tell him that both of us are [thinking about] the country; our purpose is one — to save the country,” Khan said.
The former prime minister added that he was not aware of how he was being betrayed and lied to.
The PTI chairman added that during the last few days he received a report from the Intelligence Bureau (IB) about a game being played, adding that his informant from the IB would notify him verbally and not in writing following fears.
“I trust people. I even tell my children that a brave man doesn’t suspect anyone,” Khan said.
Referring to the alleged conspiracies against his government, the PTI chairman said that implementation of the game plan hatched against him began after the removal of Lieutenant General Faiz Hamid from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
Accusing the ex-army chief of betrayal, Khan said that whenever he asked Bajwa about the conspiracy, he replied that they want continuity.
He revealed that leaders from MQM-P and other parties had also told them about the ex-COAS Gen Bajwa’s role.
Commenting on his past decision, the former prime minister said: “Even then I thought no one in the military should be given an extension, but such circumstances were created that I had to take this decision.
"After the extension decision, I felt that they [army] started talking to the PML-N.”
The PTI chief said that he believes the army had also given some assurance to the PML-N and added that he knew they have decided to remove him after Lt Gen Hamid was removed as the chief of ISI.
Gen (retd) Bajwa was due to retire on November 29, 2019, at the end of his stipulated term, but was given a three-year extension in service by the then prime minister Imran Khan on August 19, 2019.
On November 28, 2019, the Supreme Court suspended the government order, observing there was no law to extend an army chief’s tenure.
However, the apex court granted a six-month extension to General (retd) Bajwa after being assured by the government that parliament would pass legislation on the extension/reappointment of an army chief within six months.
The notification extending General (retd) Bajwa’s tenure was finally issued on January 28, 2020, after the parliament passed a law to settle the issue pertaining to the extension of the army chief’s tenure.