Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday said that he had found Chief of Army Staff General Bajwa to be a very balanced personality who was fully committed to democracy. The Prime Minister was talking to senior journalist and analyst of Jang Group, Irshad Bhatti. On rumours mongering about the extension to the army chief, the Prime Minister, while speaking to Geo News host Shahzeb Khanzada, said that he, at the very outset of assuming the office, had decided that Bajwa would continue as the army chief. He termed Gen Bajwa’s adherence to democracy as praiseworthy, adding he was the best army chief. The prime minister further said that without Gen Bajwa, the government would not have made strides in the domestic and external fronts.
PM Khan said General Bajwa was a blue-blooded soldier.
When asked why was he sarcastic about Shahbaz Sharif and mocked PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto during the inauguration of Hazara Motorway, the prime minister said Bilawal has been in practical politics for a decade but the governance in Sindh was absolutely atrocious and added that when over 30 people perished due to lightning, no politician worth his salt could dismiss the issue lightly the way Bilawal did.
The Prime Minister went on to question if the Sharifs were not the proteges of Lieutenant General Jilani (former Punjab martial law administrator). The prime minister then asked if all this was a fact, then what wrong did he do in mentioning all of that to which I (Irshad Bhatti) responded that being the prime minister this mannerism does not suit his prestigious office. At that, the prime minister conceded that is true, saying he had realized that the language should not be repeated.
The Prime Minister said the abusive language was hurled against him from the container declaring him to be a non Muslim, being a Jewish agent, but he also agreed that it was not perhaps a very good way of responding to the criticism.
Bhatti told Shahzeb that the prime minister said he was not a bigot and expressed his annoyance to the container speeches.
During the interview, the prime minister went ahead to ask Bhatti if the JUI-F leader had not been cutting deals in his political career all along, “to which I conceded.”
About the impression of a 'deal' offered to Maulana Fazl, the prime minister said it is a blatant lie and Fazl must tell with whom he has struck a 'deal'.
The JUI-F chief is talking in an ambiguous terms, the prime minister said and added let him claim what he wishes, he has not been given any deal. The prime minister said Fazl should have continued the sit-in. Fazl kept the people there by offering them money.
Bhatti quoted the prime minister as saying that staging a successful sit-in was not a joke and if it was such an ordinary matter, Fazl must give it a try again. A leader who abandons his workers in rain and rough weather cannot stage a sit-in, the prime minister told Bhatti. The prime minister said Fazl's plan was already finished and it had reached point Z.
Imran Khan said he was politically strengthened by the Dharna but he also realized there is room for an improvement in governance and performance. If there is another Dharna, it will greatly benefit his government, the prime minister said.
About corruption, the prime minister said he would maintain his narrative, but now the focus would be on improving the life of the common man.
Imran said he wanted to contest elections in 2025 when Pakistan would become a hub of international investment, agricultural sector would have been revolutionized and we would have a robust industrial sector.
To a question about the performance of the cabinet ministers, the prime minister told Bhatti that the system of rewards and punishment had begun and there will be radical changes in a fortnight. Imran said "so far I have taken the criticism of the ministers’ performance but now I have told them to perform against the given targets in a given time period after which I will review their performance."
The prime minister also praised the performance of Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar. When in jest, Bhatti reminded the prime minister of his promise to make him the chief minister Punjab, Imran in a jovial mood said things would improve a lot. The prime minister said now he will fight back with reinvigorated enthusiasm against the mafias and will rid the country of their stranglehold. Imran said he will now fully focus on issues of common man, addressing inflation and would complete the pledges he had made.