What prompted a senior PTI leader to accuse the former military chief of conspiring against his party in the 2013 general elections?
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Naeemul Haq has appeared on TV and accused ex-Pakistan Army chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani of conspiring with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to ensure the PTI lost the 2013 general elections. “General Kayani, Saudi Arabia and the U.S.A. engineered the election in favor of Nawaz Sharif,” he alleged. He went on to say that ballot counting was stopped “in the middle of the night” and the Election Commission of Pakistan’s returning officers pressured to follow the rigging instructions. He also swore that if the PTI ever came into power, it would place Kayani before a commission of inquiry.
Haq’s outburst has left Pakistan’s commentators scratching their heads. Conventional wisdom held that PTI chief Imran Khan was “in” with General Kayani when he massed his party workers to disrupt NATO supply lines in November 2013. Similarly, there have been persistent rumors that Kayani’s ISI chief, General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, had sought to secure the premiership for Khan and encouraged his junior officers to engineer the 2014 Islamabad dharna and force the PMLN out of power. Then PTI president Javed Hashmi actually spilled the beans on this plan before he was kicked out of the party.
An old interview between General Pasha and journalist Hamid Mir also lends credence to rumors of Kayani’s pro-PTI plans. According to Bob Dietz of the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists, Mir told him that Pasha had called to talk to him following the May 2011 U.S. Special Forces raid on Abbottabad that resulted in Osama bin Laden’s killing:
“Pasha spoke abusively about the son of the Punjab chief minister, the son of the president, the sons of other chief ministers. After that meeting, parliamentary democracy and the sons of different politicians began taking a critical beating from talkshow hosts and columnists. And suddenly they were all promoting Imran Khan and the PTI in the May 2013 elections. Pasha had decided Khan was the man to back.”
Considering this history, Haq’s statement raises one very important question: whose support is the PTI seeking by turning its back on the man with the plan?