By Irum Saleem
Former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa has been under spotlight for well over 10 months — for good and bad reasons.
Dawn in it’s Tuesday editorial put Bajwa in total perspective.
“Time heals all wounds; including, it seems, entirely imaginary ones. Imran Khan seems to be mellowing during his extended hiatus from in-person public appearances. He is now in a ‘forgive and forget’ mood, at least as far as the United States of America is concerned. He no longer sees the Biden administration as an insidious foreign power that conspired with his political opponents to throw him out of office.
“New information has come to light,” the former prime minister sheepishly explained to a Voice of America correspondent in a recent interview. According to this ‘new information’, it wasn’t conniving foreign officials who conspired to have him thrown out, but his own army chief who urged Washington that Mr Khan needed to go.
The PTI chief’s narrative makeover — call it a U-turn if you like — seems to have been prompted by the recent publication of an interview of the now retired Gen Qamar Bajwa, in which the general described Mr Khan as the greatest threat to Pakistan’s interests.
The paper further writes saying Pakistan was headed for disaster if Mr Khan continued in office, Gen Bajwa was quoted as saying, and this is apparently why he was removed. Those remarks have seemingly incensed Mr Khan enough to turn his guns squarely on the former army chief.
In a Sunday address, Mr Khan asked — and perhaps with good reason — what was accomplished by throwing him out of office when his successors made matters worse with their deplorable handling of the economy.
He also accused Gen Bajwa of exercising sweeping powers in most matters of governance, leaving it to the PTI to take all the blame. While Mr Khan’s new allegations seem desperate and conveniently timed, they do appear to hold a kernel of truth.
Both the PML-N and the PTI have, on record, accused the retired general of political interference and toppling their respective governments. Though the extent of his influence may never become public, it does appear from the general’s own statements that he seems to have taken a keen interest in matters that were well outside his purview.
The results of his extracurricular activities were catastrophic: the country grew increasingly polarised while he played one side and then the other. His critics say it was all for personal gain, even if he insists he was acting in the public interest.
“The general also left the armed forces facing a reputational crisis unlike any before. Given the extent of damage wrought to the state and its institutions during Gen Bajwa’s tenure, there must be some kind of reckoning.
The Bajwa doctrine must be reassessed, and its known and lesser-known dimensions audited in depth and brought into the public eye.”
The fresh garb of ‘neutrality’ no longer seems enough to excuse the latest misadventures of our uniformed leadership.
The million dollar question is whether the military establishment has learnt some serious lesson from all this political interference? PAK DESTINY