In no-trust vote, it was PTI versus military: Fawad

ISLAMABAD (Agencies): Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice-President Fawad Chaudhry said that in the no-confidence motion against party chief Imran Khan, it was actually the PTI versus the military; otherwise, stable governments are not toppled the way the PTI rule was wrapped up.

Khan was removed from premiership through a vote of no-confidence in the National Assembly in April last year by an alliance of 13 political parties — the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) helmed by JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman. Speaking on BBC programme ‘HARDtalk’, Fawad said that everyone knew who controlled these allied parties and from whom they were taking directions.

He stressed that everyone knows that the establishment controls political parties. However, politics should have been left to politicians alone, he said. According to Imran Khan, General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa was involved in overthrowing the PTI government, Fawad said. Fawad Chaudhry said that political crisis leads to an economic crisis. The economic crisis was kicked up by unnecessarily sending Imran Khan’s government home, he said.

To a question that the economic crisis facing the sitting government is actually the legacy of the PTI government, Fawad claimed the country was in a shambles when the PTI formed government and the country’s growth rate went up to 6% under the PTI rule, and that happened despite the Covid pandemic. He said Pakistan’s economic crisis emanated from the unconstitutional removal of Imran Khan’s government.

Programme host Stephen Sackur said Pakistan’s debt stood at $116 billion when the PTI took over in 2018, but it rose to $230 billion when the party left government. Fawad responded saying his party’s government had to borrow funds to return the loans taken by the previous government. He maintained that his party’s government worked to restructure the loans and did as far as economy is concerned. He said Zardari and Sharifs had put Pakistan into a vicious debt cycle. Sackur said figures did not bear out his claim, referring to promises made by the PTI before elections, especially those about corruption, He said that Pakistan fell by 20 points on the corruption perception index (CPI). Fawad disagreed, arguing that these were the departments related to rule of law, for example judiciary, not the political side, that had contributed to that index. He said Imran gave the country one of the cleanest governments in 75 years of history.

The PTI leader said it is not possible to create economic stability without political stability as [political uncertainty in the country is such that] no one knows who will rule the country three or five months from now. Fawad Chaudhry said that Pakistan’s ambassador in the United States dispatched a cipher after his meeting with Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu and Imran Khan presented the same cipher. He said that the US official had said in the cipher that Pak-US relations will be hinged on the success or failure of the no-confidence motion.

The PTI government, he said, sent the cipher to President Dr Arif Alvi and requested him to form a judicial inquiry over the issue. “The PTI never said it seeks a war with the US. Instead, it wants good bilateral ties. No party wants confrontation with the US,” Fawad noted. However, at the same time the PTI doesn’t want any country including the US to dictate Pakistan.

Saying bygones are bygones, Fawad said his party looks forward to having good relations with the US, and hopes the superpower too would like to collaborate with Pakistan’s most popular political party. Imran Khan never called Osama bin Laden a martyr, Fawad said, adding it was just a slip of the tongue, a clarification of which had been issued by the party. The PTI improved the estranged relationship with the US after it took over the government, he said.

“The PTI government influenced the Taliban to allow the evacuation of millions of foreigners stranded in Afghanistan,” he said. The PTI leader also commented on the current state of affairs with the Afghan government, saying the incumbent government in Islamabad has ruined the PTI’s efforts in this regard, as they did not continue Imran Khan’s Afghanistan policy. “The PTI government was on the verge of resolving the issue through negotiations with the Taliban government in Afghanistan,” he said.

The PTI, he remarked, can wait for the general elections, but the government is not in the mood to hold them. Even they do not want the local bodies elections in the federal capital as the incumbent rulers know that whenever elections are held, people will kick them out, he said. Pakistan needs elections, he said. “We want elections to take place in the country as soon as possible so that there is stability in the country and people’s problems are solved,” he added.