Ties with army no different under new brass: Imran

Published March 10, 2023
Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — Photo courtesy: BBC Urdu
Former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan. — Photo courtesy: BBC Urdu

• Accuses govt of plotting to keep him away from canvassing; says Qureshi to lead if he is arrested
• FIR registered against PTI chief, party workers over Lahore violence
• Quetta magistrate issues non-bailable warrants for ex-PM

LAHORE: Soon after Lahore police booked him in a case under anti-terrorism law and a Quetta court issued non-bailable warrants for him, PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Thursday ruled out talks with “looters of national wealth”, but offered conditional negotiations with anyone amongst the powers that be.

However, when asked if anything has changed for him after the change of command in the army, he said nothing had changed, rather the “excesses” against him and his party were increasing.

“My political rivals want to play the match with PTI after removing its captain, considering it will improve their chances to win the match,” he told BBC Urdu.

Referring to the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, Mr Khan said, “We fear that the government is planning for some high-profile murder to move out of the election process”.

In separate engagements on Thursday, the former prime minister elaborated that as a politician, he could go into parleys “but only for the purpose of holding the general elections across the country in one go as polls for the two provinces have already been announced”.

Mr Khan said he doesn’t need to talk to anyone because he does not need any “crutches” as the people of Pakistan stood by his party against all odds.

Explaining his original stance on meeting the army chief, Mr Khan said elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were already on the cards. “There is no other issue that I want to discuss with any political force or the establishment except the free and fair elections to drive the country out of current political and economic crises,” he emphasised.

Chiding the PDM and interim governments in the Centre and Punjab over the violence perpetrated against PTI workers, he said the incumbent rulers were running away from elections and that was why they imposed Section 144 and banned their election rally hours before it was scheduled.

When asked who will lead the party in case of his arrest, Mr Khan said Shah Mehmood Qureshi had the mandate to run the party, adding there was a proper hierarchy system in PTI that would function automatically.

In a televised address on Thursday, Mr Khan said, “The Sicilian mafia is trying to create division in the top court”. They were planning to launch a campaign against the Chief Justice of Pakistan. “We will not let this plan of the government be successful,” he asserted.

The PTI chief asked the nation that they must continue their fight against the tyranny, even if he was not there to lead them.

In his meeting with journalists, the PTI chief said the March 8 attack was a sequel of last year’s May 25 “state barbarism”.

Case against PTI leaders

Meanwhile, Lahore police registered an FIR against more than 400 PTI leaders and workers, including Imran Khan, Fawad Chaudhry, Farrukh Habib, Hammad Azhar, Mahmood Rasheed and Ijaz Chaudhry under various sections of the Anti-Terrorism Act and PPC for critically injuring 13 police personnel and damaging public property.

The case was registered at the Race Course police station on the complaint of ‘injured’ DSP Sabir Ali, who alleged that a charged mob of 400 PTI workers turned violent and carried out multiple attacks on the police on Wednesday at the behest of party chairman and other senior leaders. As a result, the official said, several PTI workers were also injured due to violent attacks of their own fellows from PTI.

Police also mentioned the ‘death’ of PTI worker Ali Bilal in the FIR, minimising chances of lodging a separate case for his murder as was being demanded by his father and the PTI leadership.

Separately, in Quetta, the court of Judicial Magistrate-1 Bashir Ahmed Bazai issued non-bilabial warrants for the PTI chairman in a case of hate speech against state institutions and officers.

Police approached the judicial magistrate and sought warrants for Mr Khan on the basis of an FIR registered against him in the Bijli Road police station on March 6 on the complaint of a citizen, Abdul Khali Kakar, a resident of Nawan Killi.

Later, a police team was constituted, comprising SSP Investigation Muhammad Umar, DSP CIA Abdul Sattar Achakzai, Inspector Abdul Hameed and others. The team could leave for Lahore any time to arrest the former PM.

Saleem Shahid in Quetta also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, March 10th, 2023

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