ISLAMABAD: In a revealing interaction with journalists during a recess in proceedings the other day, Imran Khan confirmed backchannel contacts with the powerful military establishment through Bushra Bibi, but disclosed that he had refused a proposed ‘deal’.
Imran Khan confirmed backchannel contacts with the establishment but claimed that he had refused the offer. He once again dispelled the impression that his spouse was shifted to Banigala to serve a 14-year sentence under a deal.
Mr Imran Khan said that someone in the establishment indirectly approached Bushra Bibi and asked her to convince him (Imran) to stand down for three years and behave nicely, and then he would be given an open field based on ‘good conduct’.
The former premier said that the offer was made before his conviction while he was in prison. “They want me to stay quietly in Banigala,” he said. Asked how he responded to the offer, Mr Khan said, “I said that I will not step back from my demand of a democratic system at any cost.”
He added, “I held several meetings with former army chief retired Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa for holding of free and fair elections. I will not accept any other deal.”
Mr Khan said that his message to the military establishment was that they should think about the 250 million people of Pakistan. “Rigged elections will lead to political instability in Pakistan, and the economy that is on the life support line will collapse eventually,” he said.
Mr Khan also claimed that the PML-N and the Election Commission of Pakistan had planned to hijack the upcoming elections. “I would call all the political parties, Jamaat-i-Islami, Pakistan Peoples Party and others, to watch their votes,” he said, urging all parties to ensure that Form-45 of every polling station must be signed in the presence of their polling agents.
Imran Khan, however, rejected the idea of getting PPP’s support, saying that “the day I seek help from (Asif Ali) Zardari would be judgement day”.
Mr Khan also alleged that ex-Gen Bajwa started conspiring against his government from the very beginning of the PTI’s regime. He also claimed that PML-N leader Khawaja Asif was a close friend of Mr Bajwa’s father-in-law.
“Gen Bajwa, in order to get a second extension, connived with Shehbaz Sharif. They could have toppled the PTI regime much earlier, but they had to delay the regime change plan because of the coronavirus outbreak,” Mr Khan claimed. However, he offered no explanation on why his regime gave the former army chief an extension if they suspected his intentions.
Mr Khan also claimed that the former army chief “fabricated the cipher case” against him, whereas it was a conspiracy against the elected regime.
He alleged that in a meeting with him at the Prime Minister House, a high-ranking member of the military establishment had advised him not to raise the cipher issue in public.
Mr Khan also claimed that he had never thought of elevating the former ISI chief Faiz Hamid to the post of army chief. “Gen Bajwa conveyed to the PML-N that I wanted to appoint Faiz Hamid as the army chief,” he added.
‘Lodged to humiliate me’
Mr Khan termed it a politically motivated case, instituted to hurt his dignity and repute. Bushra Bibi also claimed that her ex-husband Khawar Fareed Manika had already divorced her in April, but signed the divorce deed in November 2017. The couple requested the court to allow them to produce the witnesses in their defence.
The judge, on the other hand, termed the application seeking the same relief as delay tactics and rejected the request. Initially, Section 496-B was invoked in this case for alleged fornication. It was later dropped when the charges were framed.
During his testimony in the court, Mr Manika claimed that Mr Khan had an affair with his wife since 2014 and he was a “frequent visitor of his house”. He said he had repeatedly asked Bushra Bibi to avoid meeting Mr Khan but to no avail and as a last resort he divorced her but “with an intention of reconciliation during the Iddat”. According to Khawar Manika, the “untimely nikah” of Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi deprived him of availing the opportunity of reconciliation.
The court observed that the judgement of the apex court that defines the minimum Iddat period as 39 days was not “relevant in this particular case”. “The nutshell of the above discussion is that the complainant has been able to prove that the respondents [Mr Khan and Bushra Bibi] have gone through an unlawful marriage ceremony on Jan 1, 2018, with dishonest and fraudulent intention and as such has established the charge against the respondents for an offence within the meaning of section 496 PPC… [Both] are convicted under the provision of section 496 PPC and sentenced to simple imprisonment for a period of seven years each,” the 51-page verdict said.
Talking to the media persons at Adiala Jail, Mr Khan said that the case was lodged to humiliate him. He added that such cases could not deter him and he would not accept any ‘deal’ with the military establishment.
PTI denounces ruling
In a statement, the PTI denounced the verdict as contrary to ‘Sharia’ and said it was a “reprehensible attack” on the marriage and family laws and unethical interference in private affairs.
A PTI spokesperson alleged that the judge “removed the mask of honour, modesty, shame and civilisation from the face of the state and exposed its face before the [entire] world”.
After sentences in the cipher and Toshakhana references earlier this week, “the elements tried to push forward the agenda of hateful political revenge by convicting Imran Khan in the Iddat case through a premeditated and shameful verdict”, the former ruling party alleged.
The PTI said people would react on Feb 8 against injustices and inflict a “crushing defeat on the crooked and corrupt political leaders” in the general elections.