Shahid Maitla, who introduces himself as a senior Pakistani journalist based in Islamabad, says I went to the house of my close friend Chaudhry Naeem Ghumman to enquire after him on February 2, 2023. He is a first cousin of General (Retired) Qamar Javed Bajwa, and shortly after I reached there, Gen Bajwa also arrived. After a brief interaction, Gen Bajwa said I frequently receive your questions. You can ask questions face-to-face today. And then the meeting turned into a long interview.
As we started discussing the media, Gen Bajwa said Hamid Mir and Talat Hussain are against me these days. Hamid Mir is a liar. Hamid Mir’s claim that Nasim Zehra gave me a shut-up call at the National Defence University (NDU) is a lie. She is a woman; how can she give me a shut-up call?
Gen Bajwa said three people in Pakistan – Imran Khan, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed and Hamid Mir – are the worst liars. Talat Hussain believes I got him fired from his job. It wasn’t me; it was Gen Faiz Hameed. I, in fact, got Talat Hussain a job. Talat came to me with my cousin Anjum Warraich when he was fired from the job for the first time and I got him a job through Gen Faiz.
Maitla: Did you get Murtaza Solangi and Nusrat Javeed etc fired from their channels?
Gen Bajwa: Absolutely not. I didn’t know Murtaza Solangi earlier; I know him only for the last one and a half years.
Maitla: Were you behind the gun attack on Absar Alam?
Gen Bajwa: It’s not easy to kill someone. I too have to die one day. I have never got an innocent person killed.
Maitla: Absar Alam alleges that you ordered a gun attack on him despite the fact that he helped you become the army chief.
Gen Bajwa: I have nothing to do with the gun attack on Absar Alam. I have seen the footage wherein the attacker is holding a small TT pistol in his hand. It was an attack by an inexperienced person. Why would I do this?
Maitla: Was General Irfan Malik behind this attack because Absar Alam had put his picture on Twitter? Did he do this in anger?
Gen Bajwa: I don’t know. Maybe someone in the lower ranks got angry and did this. I didn’t even know Asad Toor; I came to know about the incident involving Asad Toor the next day. The army chief doesn’t know everything. He has a lot of other things to do. The agency picked Matiullah Jan in a ridiculous way. I snubbed Gen Faiz over this incident and ordered Matiullah Jan’s release.
I was accused of stripping Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill. I am 60-62 right now; will I strip people at this stage? How can I strip a 70-year-old elderly person like Azam Swati? This is bullshit. The allegation that I stripped Shahbaz Gill is also baseless. I have nothing to do with these cases. I too have to die one day, but Azam Swati called me bastard. Police and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) too commit excesses in such cases.
Maitla: Azam Swati accuses agencies of stripping him.
Gen Bajwa: Sometimes people in agencies try to prove themselves more loyal to the king than the king himself. This happens at lower level. Anyhow, I had nothing to do with these matters.
Imaan Mazari put up a poster saying that Gen Bajwa is “Begairat” (completely devoid of self-respect) and this angered the army men. A major said, “Are you Begairat, sir? We will fix her.” I stopped them, told them to handle this matter legally and close it. I would tolerate every type of criticism; but then there is the issue of the respect of the institution. The GHQ then formally had an FIR registered against Imaan Mazari.
Justice Athar Minallah’s daughter is a friend of Imaan Mazari and the justice granted her bail. Then we didn’t follow up on this case so that it closes here.
You can say whatever you want to say or level any allegation against the army and army officers. There’s no accountability. Army officers even don’t have the right to respond. If you talk against judges, they can respond, but we don’t have any such option. Defamation laws in Pakistan are weak.
Maitla: Did you remove General Irfan Malik from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) because he had threatened to smash Maryam Nawaz?
Gen Bajwa: It wasn’t me; it was Gen Faiz who removed General Irfan Malik from the ISI. Gen Faiz wanted to work in both positions, as ISI DG and DGC.
Maitla: How did the incident involving Maryam Nawaz happen? Who ordered smashing of the door?
Gen Bajwa: I didn’t order any such thing. Brigadier Habib was the sector commander at that time. Since Captain (Retired) Safdar had raised slogans at mausoleum of the Quaid-e-Azam, there was a pressure from the people, soldiers and the media that action should be taken against him. Gen Faiz had ordered registration of a case against him, but excessive action was taken at the lower level. Maryam Nawaz and Captain Safdar were in separate rooms when the police carried out the raid. They were not in one room.
Maitla: Did Nawaz Sharif call you or complain about it?
Gen Bajwa: Nawaz Sharif neither called me nor complained. We had removed the officer responsible for this action.
Maitla: I heard that you used to listen Siddique Jan’s show while doing your shave. I was sad to hear this that the intellect level of Pakistan’s army chief is so low.
Gen Bajwa said laughingly yes I had told Siddique Jan that someone sent me his vlog and I heard that while shaving. That’s was the only free time I had. When you are under pressure, you want to hear something that’s in your favour and against your opponents. Sometimes you say so just to encourage someone. Some YouTubers had come to me and I had told this to Siddique Jan at that time.
Maitla: How did the journalists who were considered close to the establishment go to Imran Khan’s camp? And those too who were produced by the army!
Gen Bajwa: Yes, we produced some journalists; we gave them news stories and made them do programmes for us. When the tug of war between the army and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) started, we needed journalists who could talk against them or were against the party. Therefore, we needed ARY News because it talked in our favour. I even took Chaudhry Ghulam Hussain and Sabir Shakir to the field with me. When the army changed its policy, it should have informed these journalists about it gradually. Their narrative and they should have been changed gradually, but we didn’t do that. We changed our side all of a sudden and they were left behind. Secondly, Imran Khan is expert in telling lies. He is very shrewd; he repeats his lies and people start believing him.
Referring to Orya Maqbool Jan, Gen Bajwa said he too is the worst liar. Earlier, he used to see sacred revelations about me in his dreams, but now he speaks against me.
Talking about Irshad Bhatti, Gen Bajwa said he did not get him the job with Geo News. My father-in-law, General Ejaz Amjad, told me one day that he wants to take me to dinner at his friend’s house. When we reached his friend’s house in Islamabad; it was Sadruddin Hashwani’s house. I was a major general at that time. Sadruddin Hashwani introduced Irshad Bhatti to me as the head of his media set-up at that time. After that, Irshad Bhatti started visiting me. He used to visit me regularly after I became a corps commander.
Maitla: Who sent Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman to jail?
Gen Bajwa: Imran Khan got Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman imprisoned. I got Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman released from jail. I told Imran Khan that Mir Shakil-ur-Rehman is a cancer patient and he will die in jail. Only then he agreed to release him.
Maitla: At the time I was talking to Gen Bajwa, media was broadcasting the news about Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s arrest. Gen Bajwa said why has he been arrested? He’s already zero.
Maitla: Sheikh Rashid Ahmed is considered very close to the GHQ. He tells this himself.
Gen Bajwa: He’s not close to the GHQ; he just boasts about it. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had left six years before I went to Gordon College. I have met him only twice in my life. He came to me in February 2022 and said Imran Khan hasn’t been able to run the government; please do something. Why would I meet a liar like Sheikh Rashid Ahmed; he has no intellect level. He is completely worthless; he tells lies with consistency and continues to give dates like astrologers.
Maitla: When I was asking Gen Bajwa one question after another during the interview, he said you are a very restless soul like me. You will understand everything if you will listen with patience. And this really happened. I said you are a very good story teller.
Gen Bajwa said laughingly, I went to the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS). LUMS is considered anti-establishment, but I talked to students for more than six hours and answered their questions. On this, the LUMS rector said, “Sir, you should be a teacher; you speak very fluently.”
This article was published in Urdu language by the news website Pakistan 24.