‘Unsubstantiated allegations’ fan flames of discord

Published November 5, 2022
<p>PTI chairman Imran Khan addresses the media at Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore on Friday.—Reuters/Mohsin Raza</p>

PTI chairman Imran Khan addresses the media at Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore on Friday.—Reuters/Mohsin Raza

• PTI chief sticks to accusations against top functionaries and intel officer, demands their resignations
• Vows to return to container after recovering; wants followers to continue protests across country
• Fawad seeks removal of Punjab IGP over FIR failure; Imran rejects ‘religious’ tilt being given to attack

LAHORE: Just a day after he escaped an assassination attempt during his party’s long march, Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan vowed he would be back on the streets as soon as he was discharged from hospital.

In the meantime, he urged his followers to continue protesting against the “injustices” being committed by the incumbent rulers allegedly with the support of some military officials.

Mr Khan was speaking to the media on Friday from Shaukat Khanum Hospital where he is under treatment for bullet injuries he rece­ived in Thursday’s attack. A high-spirited Imran faced the media with one leg plastered and resting on a chair after he was operated upon and bullet fragments removed from both his legs the previous night.

The PTI chief doubled down on his accusations against the prime minister, interior minister and a senior intelligence official who he identified as Maj-Gen Faisal Naseer — without giving any evidence — of hatching a plot to eliminate him, and demanded they immediately resign to ensure a fair investigation.

“The conspirators planned a killing on the lines of former Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer’s assassination while using religion and a religious fanatic as a cover,” Mr Khan said, adding he had revealed the “conspiracy” in his address at a public gathering on Sept 24. PTI workers and supporters, meanwhile, continued protests across the country on Friday.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses the media at Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore on Friday.—Arif Ali / White Star
PTI Chairman Imran Khan addresses the media at Shaukat Khanum Hospital in Lahore on Friday.—Arif Ali / White Star

The former premier said the “conspirators” wanted to eliminate him and the party that was struggling to ensure peace and rule of law in society. Explaining the firing incident, the PTI chief said: “A burst of bullets was sprayed from a side of the container that caused injuries to my legs and I fell down. As I fell, I saw another burst being fired from the front of the container that flew over my head,” adding if the shooting was synchronised, he wouldn’t be alive.

“This is not the work of a religious fanatic as being projected, but a bigger assassination plan,” he alleged, and expressed gratitude to Moazzam Gondal, who died in the shooting incident, and Ibtisam Hassan, who overpowered the suspected assailant.

Mr Khan also asked army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa to take notice of the attack and the alleged involvement of a military officer, whom he called “black sheep” in the army. He also urged the chief justice of Pakistan to provide him justice.

Since he claimed a first information report (FIR) of the attack was not being registered over fears of a backlash from the ‘higher powers’, Mr Khan urged the army chief to remove spy agency officer Maj Gen Faisal Naseer and investigate him for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to kill him.

Lamenting the state of injustice in the country, he explained that even an FIR was not being registered against the three people whom he accused of planning his assassination. “Until Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Maj Gen Naseer resign, no fair investigation can be conducted,” the PTI chief stressed.

“Gen Bajwa! Wake up and see that the country is heading towards a major disaster. Take action against the black sheep, otherwise hatred will grow,” he implored. He reiterated that the nation had stood up against all injustices and was now left with two options – a peaceful revolution through the ballot or a bloody revolution on the streets.

Explaining the assassination attempt on him while quoting some state officials, the former prime minister said the three people -- named above – hatched the conspiracy in Gujranwala. However, in the same breath, he alleged these three were different from the four planning a bigger conspiracy to get rid of him – the names of whom he said he had recorded in a video and saved somewhere abroad. He once again claimed he was informed and knew well of the attack even a day before the firing.

Earlier, Dr Faisal Sultan showed X-rays of Mr Khan’s injuries to the media and explained his condition.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry demanded immediate removal of the Punjab Inspector General of Police Faisal Shahkar for not getting the FIR into Thursday’s incident registered.

As per initial reports, he said, there were more than one attackers, adding the nation would be taken into confidence regarding the alleged conspiracy against the PTI chief.

At a news conference, Mr Chaudhry said a meeting of the senior PTI leadership was held in which doctors briefed the participants about Mr Khan’s medical condition. He regretted the attempts being made to give the incident a religious tilt.

The PTI has also announced protest demonstrations in all cities of the country at 5pm on Saturday (today). PTI Secretary General Asad Umar said he would be present at the protest at Liberty Roundabout in Lahore.

On the other hand, in a letter written to the chief secretary and IGP, Punjab Governor House officials said a mob tried to crash its front gate on The Mall, burnt tyres, tried to climb the gate and damaged the CCTV cameras. They sought deployment of an adequate contingent of police as well as stopping the mob from entering the premises. The Governor House also required a case be registered against the protesters for breaking the law.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2022

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