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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Will Chairman CPEC Authority Asim Saleem Bajwa be removed from the post?

The petitioner contended that Bajwa was illegally holding the position of the CPEC Authority chairman by availing all the perks and privileges that come with it. There was no ordinance or act to authorize the federal government to permit him to hold the office, the petitioner argues.

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The Balochistan High Court will take up a petition on Thursday (today) filed to stop Lt Gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa from working as the chairman of the CPEC Authority. A division bench of the BHC, led by Chief Justice Jamal Khan Mandokhail, will hear the petition.

The plea was filed by Pakistan Bar Council member Munir Khan Kakar, making the establishment secretary, the planning, development and reforms ministry, the private secretary to the prime minister and Asim Saleem Bajwa as respondents.

Case against Bajwa

The petitioner contended that Bajwa was illegally holding the position of the CPEC Authority chairman by availing all the perks and privileges that come with it. He added that there was no ordinance or act to authorise the federal government to permit him to hold the office.

“[The] applicant/petitioner has challenged the status/office of respondent No 4 chairman/chairperson China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Authority (herein after referred as CPEC), the same office was established through ordinance No XII of 2019 on 8-10-2019, and as provided under sub clause (2) of Article 89 of the Constitution of Islamic Republic of Pakistan 1973, the same ordinance has expired after 120 days, but despite expiry of above ordinance the respondent No 4 with the consent of respondents No 1 to 3 is still illegally holding the office of the chairman/chairperson of CPEC by obtaining all the perks and privileges from the public exchequer,” the petition read.

Why Gen. Bajwa was made chairman CPEC authority?

GVS has credibly learned, from sources in Islamabad, that Gen. Bajwa was not heading CPEC Authority on the recommendation of GHQ; he was PM’s own choice on the basis of strong recommendations from his team, his personal feedback on Bajwa’s understanding on issues of CPEC because of his work on CPEC development projects in Baluchistan where he headed the Southern Command (based in Quetta) after moving from ISPR and he had earned the trust of Chinese govt.

Bajwa, in his position as Head Southern Command, had also earned the trust of Chinese government. Over the past two years, international and local media had together created lots of misgivings about the future of CPEC that concerned Beijing. CPEC Authority was created to restore speed and thus trust in CPEC projects – and it was natural to pick up someone who is trusted and considered competent by all stakeholders.

Campaign against Bajwa

The news report on the alleged business dealings of Asim Saleem Bajwa was decidedly rebuffed last month after it emerged that the journalist responsible for writing the report had actually been relying on the testimony of a notorious social media influencer with alleged deep ties to the Indian Army.

According to several videos shared on social networking platform Twitter by users around the world, Ahmed Noorani, the journalist who wrote the now-debunked expose without revealing his sources, had relied on a video made by a retired major of the Indian Army.

The report, published on a propaganda website named FactFocus, intended to develop a correlation between Bajwa’s rise in his professional career and the rise of his family’s business. However, investigative reporters across the country stressed that the allegations were baseless since Noraani did not publish documents to back his claims.

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After the report was published, an outcry ensued on social media, with trolls and bot accounts backed by the Indian establishment working overtime to expand the reach of the story and trying to make up for the gaps in the arguments of Noorani by simply trying to get the story out to as many people as possible.

Why did Bajwa resign? 

GVS learnt from reliable sources in Islamabad that Gen. Bajwa resigned after he realized that he was unable to work in the cabinet. “Probably one minister was not happy and wanted the premier to remove Bajwa,” a source told GVS. “The same minister asked the premier to demand explanation from Bajwa after a report was published against Bajwa’s family,” the source added.

Read More: CPEC & the Greater Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)

It was also learnt that Bajwa was also not interested to divert his attention from the CPEC projects. “Bajwa is a soldier; he is trained to be focused and committed. He wanted to exclusively focus on the ongoing CPEC projects,” sources told GVS.