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Photo Source: Dawn

Pakistan Reader# 724, 17 February 2024

Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s remarks on no-confidence motion trigger “political earthquake”



JUI-F chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, alleged that former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ex-spymaster Lt Gen Faiz Hameed were responsible for the

Dhriti Mukherjee

In Focus
On 15 February, Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, alleged that former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa and ex-spymaster Lt Gen Faiz Hameed were responsible for the no-confidence motion that ousted Imran Khan from office in 2022. This statement led to strong responses from Bajwa and Hameed, and drew criticism from Rehman’s political “allies.” It was also partially responsible for the Pakistan Stock Exchange to drop by two per cent on 16 February.
 
What did Rehman say?
During a televised interview, Rehman stated: “They (Gen Bajwa and Gen Faiz) were in contact with all political parties regarding the no-confidence motion and they told us the way of going about it.” Though the PPP and PML-N supported this move, the resolution was initially planned out by the two generals. The then opposition parties were reportedly called in the presence of Bajwa and Hameed and were told how to move ahead with the motion. Rehman claimed to have initially “refused” Faiz’s offer to go ahead with the no-confidence vote, but later changed his stance since he was approached by other political parties and did not want to seem like he was “saving” Khan.
 
Responses to Rehman's allegations
An editorial in Dawn said that Rehman’s remarks “triggered a political earthquake,” with PTI sympathisers receiving support for their long-standing claims that a “conspiracy” ousted Khan from office, and detractors dismissing his claims.
 
On 16 February, sources close to Bajwa and Faiz denied Rehman’s statements, saying that Maulana had only met Bajwa twice. The first time was during the march against Khan’s government, and the second time was in 2022, when all other opposition leaders were present. During the second meeting, as per the sources, both generals asked the opposition to let Khan complete his tenure, but the opposition was not keen to do this. Quoting Bajwa, the source claimed that the chief was deny Rehman’s statement under oath if Rehman did the same.
 
The PTI took to X to state: “Today it was proved that behind the conspiracy to overthrow the government of Imran Khan.” The party claimed that Rehman’s “confession” effectively “vindicated Imran Khan’s stance,” while former National Assembly deputy speaker Qasim Suri said the truth always comes out, and JI Senator Mushtaq Ahmed urged the Supreme Court to take legal action against the accused.
 
On 16 February, the PML-N refuted Rehman’s allegations, with the party’s Information Secretary, Marriyum Aurangzeb, emphasizing that “none of the events” Rehman spoke about happened in front of her.  PML-N leader Malik Ahmad Khan, who claimed to be present in the meeting where Bajwa advised the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) to not pass the no-confidence motion, said that the PML-N was in favour of letting Khan complete his tenure. He also called on Rehman to “prove his claim” that the generals “instructed the PDM” to go ahead with motion. Further, Ahmad Khan said that all PDM members were responsible for the ouster of Khan while Faiz was serving as a corps commander “somewhere” while this was ongoing.
 
PPP’s Faisal Kareem Kundi condemned Rehman for making these “disclosures” after enjoying some time in power, claiming that Rehman himself had the most to gain from the no-confidence motion. He added that Rehman had a choice to stay out of the decision since he was the PDM head. Kundi also pointed out that after enjoying the perks of ministries for 16 months when the PDM was in power and then facing defeat in Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in the 2024 elections, Rehman decided to stage protests. A similar sentiment was echoed in a Dawn editorial, which criticized Rehman’s “hypocritical” claim that he only went along with the vote due to “peer pressure.”
 
The MQM-P’s convener, Maqbool Siddiqui, questioned the motives behind Rehman’s “baseless” claims, and expressed concern on their implications on the country’s democracy with plans to form a government underway. He said that the MQM-P was also present at the meeting where Bajwa urged the PDM to withdraw the no-confidence motion, and Rehman’s position during the meeting were contradictory to his recent statements.
 
Following the response, on 16 February, Rehman “clarified” his remarks, saying he had “mistakenly uttered Gen Faiz’s name and he was not [involved in the no-confidence endeavour] … there is no doubt.” However, he went on to blame the generals and “their whole regime” for alleged rigging in the 2018 elections, calling for an end of the military’s role in politics. Rehman also refused to make his allegations under oath, since “there is no respect” for oaths among the military considering that they have “interfered” in politics, thereby “breaking their oath.”
 
An editorial in The News International contended that the “truth probably lies somewhere between” the claims of Rehman and the others. Regardless, governments “should not fall through dharnas or undemocratic meddling.” The editorial asserted that the country’s politicians should “exercise some patience and self-restraint” to allow a prime minister to serve his full term, and prevent “meddling institutions” from interfering.
 
References
Fazl backtracks on no-trust claims after backlash,” Dawn, 17 February 2024;
The Maulana’s claims,” The News International, 17 February 2024;
No surprises,” Dawn, 17 February 2024;
Role in Imran’s ouster: Fazl retracts allegation against Gen Faiz, says ex-spymaster’s name uttered by mistake,” Dawn, 16 February 2024;
JUI-F chief admits ‘gaffe’ about ex-ISI DG,” The Express Tribune, 16 February 2024;
Fazl’s ‘allies’ snub his claim on no-trust move,” The Express Tribune, 16 February 2024;
Ansar Abbasi, Asim Yasin, Mohammad Anis, “Campaign against Imran: Bajwa, Faiz reject Fazl’s claim no-trust motion launched at their behest,” The News International, 16 February 2024;
Gen Faiz, Gen Bajwa orchestrated no-confidence move against Imran, claims Fazl,” Dawn, 15 February 2024

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