In a candid discourse at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) University of London, Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari, a close aide to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, publicly acknowledged that appointing Usman Buzdar as Chief Minister of Punjab was a monumental mistake for the party, as per Geo News.
Speaking on the theme of “Democracy in Crisis,” organized by the SOAS Pakistan Discussion Forum, Bukhari delved into the intricacies of PTI’s nearly four-year tenure, addressing critical questions from the student audience.
Bukhari disclosed that Imran Khan himself recognized the misstep in selecting Usman Buzdar for the pivotal role of Punjab Chief Minister.
“There was Aleem Khan group and other power groups. There would have been a war within the PTI if Buzdar was removed and Imran Khan did the right thing by sticking to him, to avoid the war within,” said Bukhari.
The former special assistant to the Prime Minister, now residing in London and active in advocating for Imran Khan’s case on international media, expressed his reservations about Buzdar’s performance.
He asserted that Buzdar’s incapacity to deliver effectively was evident
He said: “I don’t think he was a good chief minister and was able to perform and deliver. By the time calls against Buzdar grew after two years, it was too late and changing him after a year or two would have made the post a revolving door. Nobody would say Usman Buzdar was a good decision but we supported his decisions.”
Addressing recent controversies, Bukhari distanced himself and PTI from Farah Gogi, best friend and confidante of former first lady Bushra Bibi. He emphasized that if allegations of Gogi’s corruption were true, she should face strict legal consequences.
Responding to questions about Imran Khan’s defense of Gogi in the media, Bukhari clarified that Khan was unaware of Gogi’s business dealings and that investigating her was not within his purview.
The former special assistant to PM also condemned the May 9 attacks on military installations.
“We have condemned all forms of violence, especially the attack on Jinnah House which has a sacred value. We have always stood against violence. Ordinary people say things in the heat of emotions. It’s the job of the leadership to positively tunnel their emotions towards a democratic process to bring about a real change. We are the biggest stakeholder being the biggest political party and we will get more losses than others in any such scenario,” said Bukhari.
Imran Khan’s former special assistant claimed that over 13,000 activists were arrested after May 9 and put in dire conditions but the rest have been released and around 7,000 remain in jails.
Acknowledging PTI’s mistakes during their governance, Bukhari asserted that with a different leadership in place, those errors would not be repeated if given another chance.
He expressed willingness to engage in dialogue with all political parties, including PML-N and PPP, for the betterment of elections and democracy.
“We want them to sit with us and talk about elections and democracy,” said the PTI leader.
He also revealed that things were initially fine between PTI and the army but issues started later on.
He said: “As far as General Bajwa is concerned, he could have suggested things to the PM and not dictate.”
Answering a question, Bukhari said that two people closest to Imran Khan during the PTI govt were behind making a false case against him.
“The Ring Road case against me was framed by two people who were then closest to Imran Khan: one of them (Azam Khan) has now become an approver against Khan and another (Shehzad Akbar) has left Pakistan. The purpose was to campaign against me. I resigned from my position and didn’t return to the government after that.”