Former Pak PM Khan was persuaded to end his 'Azadi March'

Wednesday 01st June 2022 08:19 EDT

Islamabad: A former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, a retired army general and a leading businessman persuaded ousted Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to not go ahead with the planned sit-in at the end of his party’s long march in Islamabad, a media report said.

Khan launched his ‘Azadi March’ on May 25 to press for fresh elections in the country with the announcement to stage a sit-in in Islamabad but later called it off, saying the government would be happy if he goes ahead with it as it would lead to clashes between the people, police and the army.

"I had decided that I will sit here until the government dissolves assemblies and announces elections, but of what I have seen in the past 24 hours, they (govt) are taking the nation towards anarchy," he told his thousands of supporters at the ‘Azadi March’ at Jinnah Avenue.

The surprise decision by Khan not to go ahead with the sit-in at the end of the long march left almost everyone baffled - foes and allies alike. According to the Dawn newspaper report, there is convergence on one thing - the manner in which it all ended, at least for now, carried clear indications of who made it happen.

The report quoting a source said that those who acted as a go-between included a former chief justice, a leading businessman, and a retired general. According to the Dawn newspaper, the general perception is that the military had to ultimately play its role to prevent things from getting out of control.

Former National Security Adviser retired Lt. Gen Naeem Khalid Lodhi candidly admits that he too agrees with this. “There is a strong possibility of positive interference by the military to prevent chaos and seek a return of semblance of political stability so that the process for resuscitating the economy could begin,” Lodhi said.

Another retired general said there was a realisation in the top brass that no one at the helm of affairs would be able to escape responsibility if matters were to go in a wrong direction. The biggest challenge for the military, a source claimed, was to open up communication channels with Khan, especially in view of their frayed relations. But, as the former Prime Minister proceeded with the long march plans, a sense of urgency was felt everywhere and multiple channels were employed to bring him around.

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