Ex-Pakistani PM accuses army chief of toppling his govt

A speech by former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is televised at a rally in Gujranwala, Pakistan, on Oct 16, 2020.
A speech by former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif is televised at a rally in Gujranwala, Pakistan, on Oct 16, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GUJRANWALA/LAHORE (Pakistan) • Former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday accused the country's army chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, of toppling his government, pressuring the judiciary and installing the current government of Prime Minister Imran Khan in the 2018 election.

Mr Sharif was speaking via video link from London to a gathering of tens of thousands of people that was organised by opposition parties to kick off a countrywide protest campaign in the eastern city of Gujranwala, aimed at ousting Mr Khan's government.

"Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa, you packed up our government, which was working well, and put the nation and the country at the altar of your wishes," Mr Sharif told the gathering - the largest since the 2018 election.

He also accused the chief of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency of being involved in conspiring against his government.

Nine major opposition parties formed a joint platform called the Pakistan Democratic Movement last month to begin nationwide agitation against the government.

Mr Sharif, whose Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz is the main opposition party, was sacked by the Supreme Court in 2017 on corruption charges.

He left for London last November for medical treatment.

He blames generals and judges for what he says were trumped-up charges.

Pakistan's powerful military denies meddling in politics.

Ms Maryam Nawaz, the daughter and political heir of Mr Sharif, and Mr Bilawal Bhutto, who heads the Pakistan Peoples Party and is the son of assassinated former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, also addressed the gathering.

Both criticised the Khan government for what they called bad governance and mismanagement of an economy that is growing at a negative rate with an inflation touching double digits.

The next general election is scheduled for 2023.

Mr Khan, who came to power on an anti-graft platform, said on Friday that he was not afraid of the opposition's campaign.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 18, 2020, with the headline 'Ex-Pakistani PM accuses army chief of toppling his govt'. Print Edition | Subscribe