• ISPR says PTI chief has recourse to legal avenues, terms accusations part of ‘sensational’ propaganda
• Ex-PM asks ‘are military officers above the law’, accuses intelligence official of involvement in attempt on his life

ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: The military on Monday warned the PTI chairman of legal action over “mala fide statements and propaganda” and advised him to “make a recourse to legal avenues” soon after Imran Khan once again accused a senior intelligence official of his involvement in the plot to assassinate the former prime minister.

In a statement issued in response to a series of tweets posted by Mr Khan wherein he lashed out at the government and the military, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) asked him to refrain from making accusations without evidence.

The army termed Mr Khan’s allegations against the ISI’s senior official “irresponsible and baseless”.

The statement said: “Chairman PTI has levelled highly irresponsible and baseless allegations against a serving senior military officer without any evidence. These fabricated and malicious allegations are extremely unfortunate, deplorable and unacceptable.”

The military’s media wing pointed out that his recent tweet was part of “sensational” and “consistent” propaganda.

The statement said, “This has been a consistent pattern for [the] last one year wherein military and intelligence agencies officials are targeted with insinuations and sensational propaganda for the furtherance of political objectives.”

The military hinted at taking legal action, as the statement warned: “We ask the political leader concerned to make a recourse to legal avenues and stop making false allegations. The institution reserves the right to take legal course of action against patently false and mala fide statements and propaganda.”

Mr Khan on May 3, while appearing in the Islamabad High Court, told reporters that a senior official — often dubbed by him as ‘Dirty Harry’ — of the premier spy agency had “planned to assassinate him twice”.

‘Above the law’

The scathing allegations by the former premier against the apex intelligence agency came in response to a statement by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif wherein he accused the PTI chairman of maligning the military for personal gains.

“Imran Niazi’s act of routinely maligning and threatening Pakistan Army and intelligence agency for the sake of petty political gains is highly condemnable. His levelling of allegations without any proof against Gen Faisal Naseer and officers of our intelligence agency cannot be allowed and will not be tolerated,” the prime minister tweeted.

Shortly after the tweet, the PTI chairman in a tirade on Twitter accused the intelligence agency and its officials of planning to murder him.

“Have I, a citizen, the right to nominate those I feel were responsible for assassination attacks on me? Why was I denied my legal & Constitutional right to register an FIR,” said Mr Khan as he claimed to have “suffered two assassination attempts on his life in last few months”.

He asked whether the statement by PM Sharif meant that “military officials were above the law or they cannot commit a crime”.

“If we allege one of them has committed a crime, how is [the] institution being maligned?” he said, asking who was “so powerful as to sabotage” the Wazirabad joint investigation team even though the PTI was in power in Punjab. Last year, the PTI chairman survived an assassination bid in Wazirabad as he led a long march towards Islamabad.

In another question posed to PM Sharif, the PTI chairman asked, “Can SS answer why the ISI took over ICT Judicial Complex evening before my appearance there on 18 March? Why were ISI personnel in CTD & lawyers camouflaged? What was motive & what business did ISI have in the Complex?”

“When SS [Shehbaz Sharif] can truthfully answer these Qs, all will point to one powerful man & his accomplices all being above the law. Then it is time for us to officially declare that in Pakistan there is only law of the jungle where might is right,” the PTI chairman added.

After he survived the attack on his rally in Wazirabad in November last year, the PTI chairman accused PM Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and a senior military official of planning the assassination bid. He had also nominated them in his case registered at the relevant police station, but the FIR did name the three officials.

Election schedule

Giving a schedule of his mass public meetings for the run-up to May 14 elections date and to express solidarity with the Supreme Court, Mr Khan said he had decided to go out on roads “despite verifiable threats to life”.

Separately, PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi called on party Imran Khan at his Zaman Park residence to discuss the political situation in the country as well as the party’s strategy to sail through the constitutional crises.

Mr Elahi said that houses of his workers were being raided in Gujrat and they were being kidnapped and tortured in private penitentiaries. Imran Khan strongly condemned the raids and arrests of workers’ houses in Gujrat.

Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb asked Mr Khan to produce evidence either before police or courts instead of resorting to hurling allegations against others, APP adds. She said Mr Khan had a track record of levelling accusations against others, but he failed to produce evidence in every matter.

Published in Dawn, May 9th, 2023

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