• Says ‘acknowledges importance’ of statement issued after commanders meeting
• Imran says Pakistan going through ‘Mongolian phase’, will announce ‘next plan of action’ tomorrow
ISLAMABAD / LAHORE: Embattled PTI on Tuesday alleged that last week’s arson attacks and shootings after former premier Imran Khan’s arrest were carried out by the “agencies men” so that a crackdown on the party could be justified.
Separately, in video messages, Mr Khan said he would announce his “next plan of action” during a party protest at Muridke on Thursday (May 18) and urged the nation to attend the rally in large numbers.
He said a culture of fear was being spread through electronic and social media and compared the current scenario with tactics used by Mongol Empire founder Genghis Khan to instil fear in the public.
The reaction came a day after a special corps commanders’ conference vowed to bring violent protesters, who attacked civil and military installations last week, to justice through trial under relevant laws of the country, including the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act.
The PTI said it acknowledged the importance of the statement issued after that meeting of the military’s top brass and “considers the impression of a well-thought-out plan of promoting violence and mayhem engulfing several government buildings, military structures and hundreds of unarmed and peaceful citizens”.
Describing itself as a responsible and the largest political institution in the country, the PTI said it had “an unwavering commitment to the Constitution and democracy”.
The statement, issued by the PTI’s central media department, said peaceful protests after Mr Khan’s arrest on May 9 was “a natural and foreseeable reaction”.
It may be mentioned that May 9 was declared a “dark chapter” by the military after the demonstrations turned violent However, PTI claimed that there was “irrefutable evidence” to establish that armed miscreants entered those peaceful gatherings, indulged in arson and fired live bullets on peaceful protesters, killing dozens and injuring hundreds.
This, the party said, was done “to incite confrontation between the largest political force in the country and the armed forces of Pakistan”.
These elements must be identified through “a credible investigation”, it said, adding that after his release Mr Khan also demanded a powerful judicial commission consisting of Supreme Court judges to investigate the matter.
“We have ample amount of evidence to present to any independent inquiry that the arson and, in some places, shootings were done by agencies men who wanted to cause mayhem and blame it on PTI so the current crackdown would be justified,” it said.
‘Get ready for sacrifices’
Meanwhile, the PTI chief said a culture of fear was being spread through electronic and social media, where youth was being arrested and thrashed and houses being demolished to tell the people what awaited them if they continued to fight for their rights.
“When Genghis Khan used to conquer a city, he would do a massacre. And then he would ask the few people who he had spared to … let others know ‘how brutal I am’,” the PTI chief said.
He said Pakistan was going through the same Mongolian phase.
“The same strategy is being employed here. People are being scared so that they desist from fighting for rights,” he said.
“These are the tactics we need to demolish and break free from the fear. People must not lose heart. How many police are out there? Maybe a few thousand. We are 220 million. How can we be scared into obedience?” he wondered.
He said if people decided in favour of real freedom, no one could resist and stop them and “we need to tell them that we are ready for it”.
“Women are being dragged to jails. Youth standing on the roadside are being thrown to prisoner vans. Every kind of fear is being applied so that people stop resisting and forget human, civil and constitutional rights,” he regretted.
Mr Khan said this was being done “to keep Pakistanis in slavery”, adding: “Freedom means sacrifices and people should get ready for it. Shatter the idols of fear and stand up for your fundamental rights, the supremacy of the Constitution and the judiciary.”
“Be ready for peaceful protest for your rights. We only need fair and free elections, rightful representatives elected by the people and get rid of a bunch of currently ruling thieves. Only then would we get real freedom,” he said.
In another video message posted hours later, Mr Khan said he would announce his “next plan of action” during a PTI protest in Muridke on Thursday.
Urging the nation to attend the protest in huge numbers, he said: “I want all of you to come so that I can tell you my plan of how we will snatch our freedom … because you never get freedom on a plate.”
Earlier in the day, in the continuing war of narratives, Imran Khan tried to prove his innocence regarding the May 9 violence when he uploaded a video message recorded on March 22 and tweeted: “I recorded this on the 22nd of March after my attempted assassination in the Islamabad judicial complex on the 18th. I have consistently told my party workers that whatever the provocation, they must only do peaceful protests.”
Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2023