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My Only Regret Is Trusting General Bajwa, Says Imran Khan

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In an exclusive interview conducted from his prison cell, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, speaking with interviewer journalist Mehdi Hasan, unveils a series of startling allegations and reflections on his confinement. Locked away in solitary confinement, Khan’s claims regarding what he describes as psychological tactics employed to break his spirit raise questions about the ongoing power struggles and challenges facing Pakistan’s democratic landscape.

Q: What is life behind bars like? Have you been subjected to mistreatment? Torture?

Imran Khan (IK): I find myself confined in what is referred to as a death cell – a small, isolated space typically reserved for terrorists. The authorities are determined to cast me in this light. In solitary confinement, I am denied even the basic rights of a prisoner. They employ psychological tactics to break my spirit, but my heart, fortified by faith in Allah, remains strong. I keep myself occupied and mentally sharp through exercise and reading. Here, it’s all about preparing and conditioning oneself for whatever may come next. Allah’s strength keeps me resilient, content, and focused.

Q: Who do you blame for your current imprisonment? Your Pakistani political rivals, the Pakistani military, the United States? Or all of the above?

(IK): Over these past two years, I’ve had ample time to reflect, analysing every move and its consequences. After 11 months in prison, I am certain that this ordeal was orchestrated solely by General Bajwa. I hold no one else responsible. He meticulously planned and executed this scheme, presenting himself as a deceitful figure, creating lies and false narratives to cause both national and international chaos – all to secure his extension. He utterly failed to grasp the detrimental impact of his actions on democracy and Pakistan.

Q: Do you still believe the Biden administration was involved in a coup to remove you from office?

(IK): General Bajwa single-handedly spread stories to countries like the U.S., painting me as anti-American or uninterested in good relations with them. The narrative that our trip to Russia was made unilaterally without consultation is completely false. The trip was a collective decision made after extensive deliberations. Yet, he portrayed it as an anti-American initiative by Imran Khan alone. His insatiable thirst for power rendered him unpredictable. God knows what other lies he disseminated to various countries. His personal greed turned him into a bull in a china shop.

Q: You were left with no friends. You confronted the U.S. and India, fell out with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and China, and went to war with Pakistani generals and politicians. What were you thinking at the time?

(IK): I have consistently fought for the rule of law in Pakistan. If justice were served equally, there would be no need for someone like me in politics. I have maintained good relations with most countries. General Bajwa’s poison may have had a short-term effect, but it will not last. Even after my government was toppled, I kept close ties with many leaders. Most countries view our army as a stabilising force in a volatile political landscape. When the chief of this “one constant” uses brute force and deceit, it becomes difficult for many countries to speak out. I don’t mind if no one speaks about my treatment, but the world should raise its voice for democracy and the 250 million people of Pakistan, whose mandate has been stolen in broad daylight.

Q: Do you have any regrets?

(IK):  My only regret is trusting General Bajwa.

Q: Do you recognize the current government of Pakistan, or do you believe your party actually won the recent elections and is the legitimate, or ‘real,’ government of Pakistan?

(IK): This government lacks legitimacy. The PML-N barely won 17 seats in Parliament. The violence, torture, and pre-poll rigging were evident. After the elections, it took them nearly two days to alter the results. I urge you, Mehdi, and your channel to scrutinize Form 45. You will see the blatant rigging. They couldn’t even do it properly. This is not just my perspective; ask any Pakistani, and they will tell you this government is not legitimate. My party’s victory was clear, despite their efforts to undermine our identity and leadership.

Q: A lot of your supporters in Pakistan see you almost as a messianic figure. Do you feel there is something special about you or your mission? Is this a religious or even holy mission for you?

(IK): No, Mehdi, I do not regret my actions. I am fulfilling my duty as a Pakistani and a Muslim. God has given me everything – from money to fame. It would be unjust to indulge solely in personal gain. If I am popular and people follow me, it is because they know I would never lie to them. They know no amount of money can buy or change me. They know I will never bow down and disappoint them. I show them a life they deserve and can achieve if we adhere to our principles. I have highlighted our country’s potential and how other parties have exploited it for their personal gain. My connection with my people is strong, and together we will succeed.

Q: What is your message to the world? Why should people outside of Pakistan care what is happening to you?

(IK): My message is simple: This is not just about Imran Khan. This is an attack on democracy and the right to self-determination of 250 million people. Silence has prevailed while men, women, and children have been killed, abducted, and tortured. Only one political party has been victimised in every conceivable way. Recently, my information secretary was attacked on the road with blades. Platforms like X have been blocked in Pakistan for months. Mentioning my name on TV is prohibited. My main leaders are still not allowed to appear on national television. Every party in the country describes this election as the worst in our history. Elections are supposed to bring political stability by earning the people’s trust and mandate. This election has achieved neither, only creating more uncertainty and a greater trust deficit between the people and the ruling elite.

 

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