When Gen Bajwa resigned.

ISLAMABAD -- It was a dry morning of October 7, 2021, when the former prime minister's principal secretary received an urgent call. The person on the other side was none other than the then army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa wanting to speak with the then Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Told that the premier was in a meeting, Gen Bajwa went on to drop a bombshell that sent the government into a panic mode. 'Tell the prime minister I am resigning. The prime minister has one week to appoint the new army chief.'

Bajwa hung up the phone as the then Principal Secretary Azam Khan pleaded with him not to resign.

Left shell-shocked, Azam immediately took up the phone and informed the then Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Faiz Hameed about Bajwa's decision.

The following hour saw corps commanders and other senior officers surrounding the top military boss beseeching him to stay.

Meanwhile, the air in the Prime Minister Office was also thick with panic and nervous energy.

The details are being made public for the first time based on The Express Tribune's interactions with the people familiar with the developments.

None were willing to speak on record due to the sensitive nature of the events.

The whisperings about Gen Bajwa's resignation surfaced in March 2021 when he held a meeting with Imran, who had just secured a vote of confidence from the National Assembly.

The embattled prime minister had been propelled to seek a trust vote after the then Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh lost the Senate elections.

The vote proved to be a cakewalk for Imran as he pulled off a victory, thanks to the much-needed help from the establishment that rounded up members of the National Assembly by hook or by crook.

During the fateful meeting, Gen Bajwa broke the new rules of the game to Imran, telling him in clear terms that the establishment would no longer do political management for his government.

'From now onwards, the establishment will stick to its role defined in the Constitution and law.'

The army chief then informed the premier that Gen Faiz should be relieved of his current duty for which Imran sought one month.

When Gen Bajwa reminded him a month later, he sought more time.

Then came October and Gen Bajwa finally told him that the reshuffle had to take place without...

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