In the final days of his government, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the nation on Thursday night, but even that was not a smooth affair. The Pakistan Army and ISI first approved of the address after much pleading on the part of Khan and then they monitored his speech.
A day earlier, that is on Wednesday, the previously scheduled telecast had to be cancelled at the last moment.
The days of the Khan government are now numbered, says Pakistani media. The opposition coalition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) has the support of more than 200 lawmakers in that country’s National Assembly (parliament). Khan will be unable to muster a number beyond 140. The majority mark is 172.
Imran Khan’s office issued a statement on Wednesday morning. It said the prime minister would address the country at 7.30 PM. All the media channels had booked the slots, but the schedule was cancelled. It was 9 PM Pakistan time and Khan did not appear on TV.
Rumours were agog about possible reasons for the no-show. After some time, another statement arrived. It said that Khan would not address the country that day.
Journalist Hamid Mir said in his programme on Geo TV that two important personalities had met Prime Minister Khan before the address and then the second statement came about.
Another journalist Asad Ali Toor spelt out the names — ISI Chief Lt Nadeem Anjum and Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa met Khan and told him bluntly that they would not allow him to address the country.
Toor said that the ISI and army chiefs clearly told Khan that he was no longer important in Pakistan’s present scheme of things. His desperation to be heard by the people will not be entertained, they told him reportedly.
Khan wanted to talk about an alleged letter that he had waved in front of the public at his Islamabad rally on 27 March. Khan claims that a “foreign power” had sent him the letter, threatening to topple his government. Khan claims that the US wanted to see him out of power in Pakistan.
Journalist Imran Shafqat said that since Khan had promised to address the country, it became a matter of prestige. He pleaded it would be his last message as the wazir-e-azam (prime minister). Both the officers agreed but him to record his statement and get it approved by the army, after which the approved audio clip would be released.
Eventually, the officers agreed to the live speech with the condition that he would not include in his speech his conspiracy theory about the US.
It is not known whether it was intentional or otherwise, but Khan did mention the US in his speech.
Ironically, when Khan became the prime minister of Pakistan, he did not have adequate numbers in the parliament of that country. The army that has turned against him now had pushed his candidacy back then.