• Advises army to form political party, stop taking decisions behind closed doors
• Announces rallies from Wednesday; asks police, media to snub ‘unjustified’ orders of ‘handlers’
LAHORE: PTI Chairman Imran Khan demanded an independent investigation into the May 9 incident of torching national public buildings, including the corps commander’s residence in Lahore and firing on unarmed protesters, by an independent panel to be constituted by Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial.
“I know, who wants to create anarchy in the country and take benefit of the tense situation,” Mr Khan asserted in an hour-long maiden speech after the Islamabad High Court gave him blanket relief in all 145 cases registered against him. Mr Khan was speaking through video link from his Zaman Park residence on Saturday.
He said those vested interest elements did take some benefit by putting PTI’s all senior leadership as well as around 3,500 workers behind bars.
During the address, video clips were shown that how army trucks dropped ‘unidentified’ plainclothesmen, who joined PTI protesters and provoked them to unleash violence and ransack public property.
Asserting that “violence and vandalism is not my philosophy”, the PTI chairman said his party workers did not go for violent protests even when he was attacked in Wazirabad, not even when party activists were attacked on May 25 last year, and neither on March 8 when the police clashed with them at an election rally in Lahore.
Speaking about cases as well as allegations levelled by ISPR, Mr Khan called out the NAB DG as well as his handlers as “unscrupulous and shameless” for instituting a case of corruption against him and his wife without any proof. He explained that the $170 million amount was transferred to the Supreme Court following a cabinet decision in the aftermath of a confidential agreement between Britain’s National Crime Agency and property tycoon Malik Riaz.
“The federal cabinet under my leadership decided not to go into litigation because Pakistan had already lost some $100 million in foreign litigations and let the money come to Pakistan,” he explained.
He also said that Al Qadir University was a trust and the trustees do not even take any salary.
The former prime minister took strong exception to the ISPR allegations against him and said that the ISPR [spokesperson] was not even born, when he was representing Pakistan in the world.
“I kept Pakistan’s flag high world over,” Mr Khan asserted. “Never has ISPR made such a statement. You should be ashamed of yourself. You have jumped into politics. Why don’t you make a [political] party,” Mr Khan said in a harsh rejoinder to claims made by the army’s media wing.
Mr Khan said he was the only person, who defended Pakistan when Osama bin Laden was killed in Pakistan and everyone had gone silent. “The former army chief stabbed me in the back and brought looters and plunders to power that led masses to criticise the former army chief,” he said and quoted examples of Memogate and Dawn Leaks.
He also took exception to the ISPR’s claim that he had levelled baseless allegations and asserted that Constitution gave him the right to get an FIR registered against the suspects who facilitated an attack on him.
The PTI chairman suggested that the army should stop taking decisions behind closed doors and expand its circle of discussion to save Pakistan from heading towards imminent disaster.
“Nobody can eliminate a political party by force and putting them in jail,” he reiterated.
Mr Khan said the nation had resolved that it would not accept slavery anymore and continue the jihad to earn “Haqeeqi Azadi”.
He lamented that unarmed youth was peacefully protesting when they were shot at leaving several workers dead and scores injured.
“We will visit the families of all those killed and injured and collect money to help them in the long run,” he stated.
Mr Khan also raised a question and demanded an investigation that why there were no police or soldiers to stop the peaceful protesters marching towards the Corps Commander’s House and eventually entering the premises without any resistance.
“There were specially launched miscreants that ransacked and set the Jinnah House on fire,” he alleged.
The PTI chief also chided all those involved in taking journalist Imran Riaz Khan to some unknown place and expressed his fear that he would be tortured since he was not towing the “imported” government’s line. He also said that several other journalists, including Aftab Iqbal, were picked and tortured. “Such a situation will take Pakistan to the East Pakistan-like situation,” he feared.
Mr Khan urged the masses to come out of their homes, and stand in their respective streets carrying placards with inscriptions “Haqeeqi Azadi” and “Save Constitution — Save Pakistan” for an hour on Sunday (today) from 5:30pm.
Stop taking orders
The ex-PM announced that he would start his mass public rallies next Wednesday in Muridke. Stating that independence needs to be snatched, he urged policemen, judges, journalists and other state functionaries to stop taking ‘unjustified’ orders from the ‘handlers’. He said those handlers were baffled when he was granted blanket relief as bail in all 145 cases and did not allow him to move from the IHC for several hours.
“Not a single criminal case was instituted against me during my 50-year public life, but this regime lodged 145 cases, including terrorism and mutiny,” he said.
Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2023