Establishment Pushing PTI to the Wall, says Zulfi Bukhari

Mon Apr 03 2023
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Zubair Ali Khan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) senior leader Zulfi Bukhari has said that not only the army chief but also his number two [ISI chief] influenced the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government [when they were in power].

“It is not possible that the army chief interferes in politics but not the DG ISI. In our system, the DG ISI carries more clout than the army chief,” Zulfi Bukhari said in exclusively with We News.

He said that they (army) would ask for favour even if it was not directly from the army chief or the DG ISI but it would happen. “This should not happen because, at the end, the political party has to bear the brunt of all this. There was a lot of influence not only from the army chief but also from the top two (ISI chief). And when the influence increases, many people also work for their own interest and benefit.”

In response to a question, he said: “Many a times, I used to think that there is a lot of interference from the establishment, and I think it should not have happened. Imran Khan is now saying that his hands and feet were tied. He had nothing in his hand. We should learn from this and should not depend too much on one person.”

Zulfi Bukhari, a close aide to former Imran Khan, said: “It is a different thing to seek assistance from the army as an institution, rather than relying on them (individuals). When you become overly dependent on an individual, then personal preferences and likes and dislikes come in your way, and the government has to suffer.”

Zulfi Bukhari said, “We had good relations with the army, and it should be, because this is our army and not India’s. Several decisions are taken on the advice of the prime minister and the army chief and there is no problem in it. But the problem comes when you rely too much on the army, and we have learned that we should not rely on any institution too much.”

“We are political power. We have to make political decisions, not anyone else. When someone else comes, then you suffer and we have suffered from it,” he said.

‘Not fulfilling promise of accountability our failure’

Zulfi Bukhari said, “The choice of bureaucracy and the lack of knowledge about it was one of our biggest mistakes. With regard to bureaucracy, we were inexperienced and the appointment of capable officers was a big challenge, in which we failed.”

He said that “we could have run Punjab in a better way. In Punjab, better options could have been used. Our promise of accountability did not materialise, which is our failure.”

While taking about former accountability whip Shahzad Akbar, Zulfi Bukhari said that he was an incompetent man and was pursuing someone else’s agenda and when we came to know about it, it was too late. And now the whole country has come to know about it.”

He said that it was their first stint in power and they made mistakes, “but still our performance was much better.” Despite the outbreak of the coronavirus, our time was much better compared to today’s Pakistan.”

‘Establishment not neutral, PTI being pushed against the wall’

Talking about the role of the establishment, Zulfi Bukhari said, “The opinion of the people is that the establishment is pushing the largest party (PTI) against the wall. Every effort is being made to push the PTI against the wall.”

He said: “If the institution (army) has decided not to interfere in politics (at the moment”, then this is also wrong, because you have played a role in the politics of the country in the last 75 years. And now, suddenly you say that we are neutral. You have to first reset, hold elections and then detach yourself from politics. It cannot be that (you bring) a vote of no confidence and topple the government and make efforts to arrest Imran Khan, and workers and then say, we have nothing to do with politics.”

‘If Imran Khan and army chief do not sit and talk, country will go nowhere’

Zulfi Bukhari said that “the PTI and the establishment are two big realities and unless these two sit together and talk, how will the country move forward?”

“Our army as an institution is a big reality, and in the last two years, a new reality has emerged and that is Imran Khan and the PTI. The country will not move forward until these two realities sit together and talk.”

He said that both of them will have to talk to each other, whether it is now or after the government (is formed). How will we run the government even if we come to power with popular vote? Many things are associated with the institution (army). Unless the army chief and Imran Khan sit on the same table and talk, country’s problems will continue to exacerbate.”

Establishment thinking about minus-Imran Khan

According to Zulfi Bukhari, “The establishment is thinking about minus-Imran Khan., For them, Imran Khan is intolerable at the moment. An atmosphere of trust has to be created on both sides.” He questioned whether the situation will continue to remain the same as long as the current army chief remains in office for the next three years. Where are we going?”

Imran Khan misled on Ring Road scandal

Talking about the Rawalpindi Ring Road scandal, Zulfi Bukhari said, Shahzad Akbar and others added his name to the Ring Road scandal. “I had nothing to do with this scandal. If I had anything to do with it, it would have been the easiest thing for the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz to initiate action against me.”

He said that Imran Khan was misled in the Ring Road scandal case and the scandal was a conspiracy against him. He said that two to three housing societies did not want to build ring road and they controlled government functionaries through influential people within the party.

Shahzad Akbar was hand in glove with several housing societies, and the (then) IB chief and his troika as well.”

‘Nothing has ever come out against Farah Khan’

When asked about Farah Khan, Zulfi Bukhari said, “I have not seen (with my eyes) any influence of Farah Khan but just heard about it. At present, everything is in the hand of the present government. If institutions have failed to bring out any tangible evidence against her. Either these institutions do not have the capacity or there is nothing against her.”

He said that “I or the party have nothing to do with this whole affair. If Farah Khan has been involved anywhere, then it has nothing to do with the party.”

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