Imran Khan and Qamar Javed Bajwa visit ISI Headquarters in Islamabad on Sunday. Twitter photo
Tariq Butt, Correspondent
Prime Minister Imran Khan says there is no pressure on him from the Pakistan army in running the government affairs including the foreign policy and key appointments.
“It is believed that the army interferes in foreign policy matters, but my government’s foreign policy is exactly as per the manifesto of the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI). There is no pressure on me and nor can anyone exert it,” he told a TV channel in a wide-ranging interview.
Imran said the army knew everything about him and the others who had plundered money. “The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Intelligence Bureau (IB) know whatever I do and with whom I talk on telephone.”
Imran Khan (C) being briefed at the ISI Heaquarters.
He defended all his appointments at the Centre as well as in Punjab, declaring them to be on merit. About the performance of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and frequent changes in police and bureaucracy in the province, he said that they had been running on “trial and error basis” since they had formed the government for the first time.
Imran stated the army had never asked him for appointing any person to any position and all those ex-military persons, including retired Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, working in different organisations were appointed on merit.
“If we have appointed retired military persons, then was it under pressure or have we appointed better people? Why should I resist when there is no pressure from the army,” he said when his response was sought on allegations that he had been picked by the army since it wanted a ‘yes man’ in office and he had appointed many retired army people on key posts without offering resistance.
When asked if he had no issue with the agencies tapping his phone, he said it happened all over the world and even the CIA did the same in the US.
He was of the view that the agencies did such things as they were responsible for providing security to the heads. “The ISI knows as to whom I will be calling and why I am calling,” he said, adding the ISI also knew as to who had taken money out of the country.
The premier said retired Lt Gen Asim Bajwa had been appointed as chairman of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Authority because he had headed the Southern Command of the army in Balochistan and had negotiated with the Chinese. Moreover, he said, since Balochistan was facing security issues and Gwadar had a central position in CPEC, therefore, “when we came to power, we considered Bajwa as the best option.”
He said frequent changes in police and bureaucracy in Punjab did not mean that the chief minister was not functioning properly. He said the Punjab bureaucracy had been politicised and people had been appointed without merit. “When you face hurdles, you make changes.”
Imran said that he had not promised to provide 10 million jobs in two years and claimed that when his government would complete the five-year term, even more than 10 million jobs would have been provided. Similarly, he vowed to fulfill his promise of providing five million houses to the poor people of the country.
To a question about former PTI secretary general Jahangir Tareen, Khan said he was presently facing cases and even FIRs had been registered against him.
He said Tareen was going through bad times and he regretted that because he had been very close to him. He said Tareen holds no party office now. He did reply when asked if Tareen was still in contact with him and was sending him messages which he was not responding to.
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