ISLAMABAD: Former premier Imran Khan has said ‘elements facing corruption cases’ are creating differences between Pakistan’s largest party Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and the army, while also recalling that the country was divided in the 1970s when the then largest party was made opponent of the army. He alleged that efforts were made to wipe out his party during the recent by-polls and attempts were being made to break the party through foreign funding case. Referring to Toshakhana case, he said former presidents, prime ministers and army chiefs had also received gifts.

He also cited foreign newspapers reports that the drone that killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri flew through the airspace of Pakistan. “If it was done for monetary benefit, the country would suffer more,” he said at a presser, days after the army denied that Pakistan’s soil was used in the attack.

The PTI chairman claimed he had street power but he decided to hold peaceful protests so that the economy of country would not suffer.

While speaking to a news conference through a video link, Mr Khan said those who alleged that the army was involved in terrorism, were trying to create differences between largest party of Pakistan i.e. PTI with the army.

Concerned at foreign press reports of Pakistan airspace being used for drone attacks; warns ‘national security will be compromised’ if free, fair elections not held

“While I was 18 years old, I went to East Pakistan and come to know that supporters of largest party of Pakistan [Awami League] hated Army. It is a foreign conspiracy to create difference between PTI and Army,” he said.

He alleged that it was earlier assumed that PTI would be wiped out after the government ouster, but public came out on the roads and on May 25 remained on the roads despite crackdown by the government.

“During by-elections the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) and administration used all possible means but PTI managed to clean sweep. Then it was decided to break the party by using foreign funding case. However fact is that PTI is the only party which did political fund raising and provided names of 40,000 donors to ECP but overseas Pakistanis were declared foreigners,” he said.

While defending Arif Naqvi, Mr Khan said he (Mr Naqvi) purchased K-Electric during the tenures of Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N). He explained that the PTI had received the donation in 2012 while allegations were levelled against Mr Naqvi in 2018. He said he signed a certificate in which he mentioned that to the best of his knowledge all the data of audit report, provided to the ECP, was correct.

“I am being blamed for receiving gifts from Tosha Khana but fact is that all the presidents, prime minister and army chief received gifts. Asif Zardari purchased three vehicles from Tosha Khana and Nawaz Sharif purchased one vehicle. They have started character assassination and media houses are being used against me. On the other hand ARY, which was giving my version, has been closed. Soon they will move towards YouTube channels and social media accounts,” he said.

The PTI chairman said foreign newspapers were reporting that drone, which killed Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri, used airspace of Pakistan.

‘TTP threatening ministers’

“If we did that for some financial benefit, we need to remember that during Afghan Jihad we supported the US and in return we faced terrorism. We again supported the US in war against terrorism and received US $ 20 billion but our 80,000 people died. We will face similar situation again as I have been hearing from my ministers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) that Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan has started threatening them,” he said.

While defending party leader Shehbaz Gill, Mr Khan said that even if he (Mr Gill) had violated the law, proper chance should have been given to him to clarify himself. He alleged that his driver was also thrashed by the police.

During the presser, videos of PPP and PML-N were run in which leaders of both parties criticised the armed forces (role in politics).

The ex-premier was of the opinion that free and fair election should be held or else ‘national security would be compromised’.

Also addressing the presser, PTI senior leader Murad Saeed said the game plan of the ‘imported government’ had been exposed, but warned that the nation would not allow them to play with the lives of people.

He said Pakistan was plunged into the war on terror despite the fact that not a single Pakistani was involved in 9/11 incident due to which the whole country especially KP suffered the most. He warned that the country should not be dragged into the dirty game again because it was very easy to ignite the fire but it was very difficult to extinguish it. He said that peace in the restive Swat valley was restored after sacrificing over 80,000 lives in Waziristan, Bajaur and Kurram tribal districts.

Published in Dawn, August 11th, 2022

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