ISLAMABAD: Hours after Imran Khan directly blamed government officials and an army officer for the attempt on his life, federal ministers and the military denied the allegations, calling them “unacceptable and uncalled for”, while demanding action against “those responsible for defamation and false accusations against the institution and its officials”.
Earlier, Mr Khan had accused the prime minister, interior minister and a spy agency officer for hatching a plot to assassinate him and demanded their immediate removal.
In a late night statement, the military’s media wing condemned the allegations and said: “The baseless and irresponsible allegations by chairman PTI against the institution and particularly a senior army officer are absolutely unacceptable and uncalled for.”
ISPR added that the Pakistan Army was a professional and disciplined organisation with a robust internal accountability system for any unlawful acts committed by uniformed personnel.
Calling Mr Khan’s allegations regrettable, the ISPR said honour and safety of its rank and file were being “tarnished by vested interests”. “The institution will safeguard its officers and soldiers no matter what.”
Earlier on Friday, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb and Interior Minister Rana Sanullah also lambasted Mr Khan’s recriminations.
Ms Aurangzeb raised questions over Mr Khan’s actions following the attack.
“Why did he not go to any hospital nearby after being hit by four bullets and wasted three precious hours to reach Lahore?” she asked. Mr Khan was taken to Lahore, around 123km southwest of Wazirabad where he was shot.
She also questioned why no government doctors and police were allowed to check or visit Mr Khan.
“We offer full cooperation of the federal government to investigate the incident,” adding that Mr Khan can call Scotland Yard, private investigators or anybody to probe the attack. “But eventually you will have to appear in court so that the truth may come out.”
“Not only was Imran Khan making false accusations without any evidence, but the fact is that the attacker was in Punjab police’s custody and investigation was the responsibility of the Punjab government, not the federal government.”
“For Almighty’s sake, I plead not to play the religion card.This is a dangerous path and could lead to serious consequences.”
She claimed Mr Khan has been defaming the institutions for political benefits, saying: “It all started after March 07 he [Mr Khan] offered Gen Bajwa to become army chief for lifetime for supporting him in the vote of no confidence.”
She added when the COAS refused, a derogatory campaign was launched against the army and to “ridicule” martyrs.
Later, Mr Khan used the words neutral, animal and XYZ etc for the army, she added.
Meanwhile, talking to Geo News, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah called Mr Khan a compulsive liar and said his whole media talk was nothing more than “baseless allegations”.
He disputed Mr Khan’s claim that he received four bullets and demanded an independent medical board to examine these claims.
While rejecting the possibility of more than one attacker – as claimed by Mr Khan – the interior minister said there was minute-by-minute footage of the attack which could be examined.
He claimed the PTI was trying to add “an unnamed attacker” to mislead the investigation, and added the party was yet to respond to the claims made by the attacker in police’s custody.
Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2022