Monday 26 October 2020

Bajwa and Bhutto-Zardari clash during secret meeting on Gilgit

As Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari told the Pakistan Army chief a similar misadventure had cost them Bangladesh in 1971, Gen QJ Bajwa turned livid

Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had summoned Pakistani politicians under the condition that they wouldn’t divulge things discussed during a luncheon. The politicians are hence tight-lipped on the issue, Pakistani journalist Rauf Klasra said. However, the fact that Gen Bajwa had got into an argument with Bilawal Bhutto and Shahbaz Sharif — in the presence of the head of Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lieutenant-General Faiz Hameed — has leaked to the press.

The government of Pakistan has decided to accord province status to the disputed territory of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, Gilgit-Baltistan. Gen Bajwa is behind the plan, sources said.

The Pakistan Army chief had summoned the leaders of all the major parties of the country to the luncheon organised at the Army Headquarters, Rawalpindi. The invitees included Nawaz Sharif’s brother Shahbaz Sharif, Asif Ali Zardari’s son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and several veterans of Pakistani politics. The head of the Pakistani spy agency ISI was present too.

Bajwa said that he was apprehensive of a possible Indian attack on PoK. He said China was investing extensively in the region, which would deter India and hence this was an opportune moment to turn Gilgit into a new province.

The Pakistan Army chief wanted political parties to support his proposal of making Gilgit a province. But Bhutto-Zardari raised the issue of military intervention in political matters.

Bhutto-Zardari said that a similar situation had surfaced in 1971 and at that time the army was interfering in political matters, pushing the country to a war that it lost along with East Pakistan that became Bangladesh. He cited the issue of Balochistan and the political intervention of the ISI and the military’s open support to Imran Khan.

Gen Bajwa livid on being told Pakistan Army had lost the 1971 war

Bajwa and Bhutto-Zardari clash during secret meeting on Gilgit: Pakistan army, ISI had secret meeting with opposition leaders ahead of multi-party conference
At the secret meeting

The Pakistan Army chief erupted as soon as Bhutto-Zardari recounted the 1971 Bangladesh War. Bajwa said that politicians like him seek the help of the army time and again; the army never goes to politicians, he asserted.

Gen Bajwa said this was a quarrel between politicians, “We have nothing to do with you. We have called you for an issue of national importance like Gilgit,” he said.

Bhutto-Zardari and Sharif did not reportedly utter a word after the rebuke by Gen Bajwa.

Pakistan had released its new map a few weeks ago showing the whole of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir as well as parts of Gujarat as its territory.

The Imran Khan government’s latest manoeuvre of turning Gilgit-Baltistan into a province holding an election in the area at the behest of Gen Bajwa flies in the face of the fact that no country has recognised its new map. India has, of course, made its stand clear that ​​Jammu and Kashmir, including Gilgit-Baltistan, and Ladakh belongs to it and Pakistan cannot conduct elections there.

Meanwhile, Islamabad has said that Prime Minister Khan will soon visit the area and make a formal announcement. The Pakistani government said it would give the area adequate representation in every constitutional body, including in the National Assembly and the Senate (the two houses that constitute the Pakistani parliament).

In May, India had bluntly told Pakistan that the latter or its judiciary did not have any right over areas it had forcibly annexed including Gilgit-Baltistan, which was a part of Jammu and Kashmir. India warned Pakistan not to try to make any changes in PoK. It said that Pakistan ought to abandon immediately the illegally occupied areas of Jammu and Kashmir. India had warned Pakistan also against holding elections in these areas.

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