• Stresses polls only way to end political instability; says he reprimands army just as he criticises his children
• PTI chief to move LHC for judicial probe into violence

LAHORE: PTI chief Imran Khan has accused the ruling coalition of hatching a conspiracy to pit the army against the “largest” political party and spread hatred among Pakistanis, warning that it may lead to the country’s disintegration.

“The PDM leaders and Nawaz Sharif, who is absconding in London, are least concerned whether the country’s constitution is desecrated, state institutions are destroyed or even Pakistan Army earns a bad name. They are looking for their vested interests of saving the looted wealth alone,” the former prime minister said during a speech via video link from his Zaman Park residence on Wednesday.

“I am seeing a frightening dream that the country is heading towards an imminent disaster,” the PTI chief claimed.

He said the only solution to end political instability was to hold elections. “I appeal to the powers that be to let the elections take place and save the country,” Mr Khan requested.

Asserting that he had defended Pakistan Army even on international media throughout his political career, Mr Khan said, “When I reprimand the army, it is like I am criticising my kids.”

“I have repeatedly stated that I do not interfere in state institutions’ internal matters. I did not interfere when I had confirmed reports that the former army chief was conspiring against me,” he said, claiming some politicians were telling the current army chief that Imran Khan would de-notify him if voted to power.

Strongly reacting to the Punjab government’s claim that some 40 terrorists are hiding at his Zaman Park residence, Mr Khan said the government must search the house in a lawful manner after obtaining a search warrant because his own life was also in danger in the presence of terrorists.

“But don’t make this an excuse to launch a crackdown on the country’s largest political party PTI,” he warned.

Accusing the caretaker Punjab government of not defending the Corps Commander House and other state buildings in the province, Mr Khan said he had received evidence that some “unknown armed persons” had entered the PTI rally and instigated as well as attacked state property.

Observing that PTI’s 25 workers were killed, some 700 received bullet injuries and over 7,500 workers got arrested so far, the PTI chairman warned that this would lead to a “big backlash” causing harm to the interests of the country.

Judicial commission

“With the available evidence, the PTI is approaching the Lahore High Court for the constitution of a judicial commission to probe the facts that led to the arson attack on the Jinnah House and other state buildings,” he announced.

Mr Khan said the IG Punjab should be investigated first that why no one was there to stop protesters marching all the way from the Liberty Roundabout to the Jinnah House.

Speaking about the riots, Mr Khan asserted that it was a “pure conspiracy” hatched and executed allegedly on behalf of the PDM government and the Punjab caretaker government. Soon after the incident, he said the government assumed the role of a judge, jury and executioner to pave the way for declaring PTI a “terrorist” party.

“This is high time that the powers that be should sensibly rethink otherwise the country might face an East Pakistan-like situation,” he lamented. Mr Khan said a recent survey revealed that Pakistan’s 70 per cent population was standing with the PTI and the remaining 30 per cent people with all the parties that are part of PDM.

‘Last tweet before arrest’

Earlier in the day, the PTI chairman tweeted: “Probably my last tweet before my next arrest. Police has surrounded my house”. He also posted some videos showing police taking positions outside his house.

In a series of tweets, Mr Khan strongly condemned the unlawful detentions and abductions of PTI’s senior leadership and workers, adding that maltreatment meted out to Dr Shireen Mazari, her daughter, Shehryar Afridi’s wife and party’s other incarcerated women by male police officers was reprehensible.

Mr Khan demanded the party’s women workers and supporters must immediately be released. “I am also raising this issue with the international human rights organisations,” he stated.

Media access to residence

Following his video-link address, Mr Khan allowed the electronic and digital media representatives access to his residence and see for themselves that there were no terrorists inside Zaman Park.

The PTI posted on its official Twitter account that (caretaker CM) Mohsin Naqvi wanted to repeat the worst operation of March 14 at Zaman Park on the basis of malice.

“It is a clear concern that the police traditionally bring people along on such occasions and mislead the media by putting their arrests on the spot.”

The media persons, who visited the house, later reported that there were only domestic workers and some policemen inside the house.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2023

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