LAHORE: PTI Chairman Imran Khan has said there are 80 per cent chances of his arrest on Tuesday when he will be in Islamabad to pursue pre-arrest bail in various cases.
In an interview with CNN, the former prime minister alleged that PDM was aligned with the army and was “dismantling the democratic system to keep me out”. Right now, he said, over 10,000 workers had been arrested and his party’s entire senior leadership was in jail.
Referring to violence and arson attacks on state buildings and army installations on May 9, Mr Khan said: “The way they have used the pretext of arson […] they have used that reaction after my arrest to dismantle the party.”
Claiming that hundreds of women and children have been jailed, the PTI chief said: “They are now trying to try us in military courts.”
Since he had already stated that he had no conflict with the establishment and did not know why the other side was annoyed with him, the ex-premier wondered how could someone win by “taking on your own army”. “In such a situation, even if you win, the country loses,” Mr Khan said and in the same breath emphasised the need for a strong army.
“I am a firm believer that Pakistan needs a strong defence system.”
The former PM said he did not have any problem with the army “knowing they have been entrenched”, recalling that he had worked with former army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa before “he switched horses”.
He claimed the ruling coalition wanted to “bump him off” because it was scared of losing elections. Asserting that there was still a threat to his life, the PTI chief said he had predicted that a religious fanatic would be used to kill him like a former Punjab governor was assassinated.
Responding to a question, he said Pakistan is passing through “unpredictable time” and expressed the fear over the coalition government not holding the national elections later in October this year.
“My worry now is that they won’t hold the national elections even in October. I fear they will hold the elections when clear that PTI will not win.”
Mr Khan said the situation had deteriorated to such an extent that even the decisions of judges and courts were being discarded.
In an interactive session with journalists, the PTI chairman said a Punjab government delegation visited him on Sunday and gave him eight names, who they said were wanted men. “Everyone in the PTI is currently wanted,” he commented.
“The authorities have apprised me of conducting a search operation at my residence, but I have refused to do so. They can come as per permission given by the Lahore High Court,” he maintained.
He said the LHC had ordered forming a two-member government team comprising a lady police officer, and the PTI member to aid in the search operation.
While asking for evidence of his party’s involvement in the May 9 violence, Mr Khan said if PTI workers were found to be involved, he would help [police] catch them. “The government is working on plans to bring me and the PTI into conflict with the army.”
The PTI and Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Pakistan (JUI-P) demanded a halt to the ongoing “illegal crackdown” on PTI workers as well as release of senior party members, particularly women workers and leaders.
The demand was made during a meeting of a 12-member delegation of JUI-P, led by Maulana Khan Mohammad Sherani, with Imran Khan at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore on Saturday.
The two parties alleged that the state machinery was fanning internal conflict that would destabilise Pakistan, besides ruining its economy. They said the government should stop using excessive force to gag the masses from demanding fundamental rights.
The meeting demanded an independent and comprehensive investigation into the May 9 incidents to ascertain who opened fire on unarmed protesters that left 25 people dead and around 700 party workers and supporters injured.
The meeting expressed concern over police raids on the houses of PTI workers without ascertaining their involvement in any saboteur activity.
Maulana Sherani, who had parted ways with the JUI-F and formed his own faction of JUI-Pakistan, emphasised the need for a comprehensive investigation to bring to justice those who had damaged public and private property on May 9.
The PTI and JUI-P condemned victimisation of media houses and journalists, besides promoting hate propaganda.
They demanded that the Supreme Court remove the caretaker governments in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and ensure holding of elections in line with constitutional requirements.
The JUI-P delegation condemned Imran Khan’s “abduction” by Rangers from the premises of the Islamabad High Court.
Published in Dawn, May 22nd, 2023