• Core committee does ‘about-face’ on previous explanations offered by party leaders
• Doubles down on comparison with fall of Dhaka, urges people to read Hamoodur Rehman Commission report
• Asif asks Imran to ‘stay quiet’ amid attempts to reduce tensions; Tarar says their stance that PTI founder was behind controversial tweet ‘stands vindicated’

ISLAMABAD: After disassociating itself from recent post on its founder Imran Khan’s X account comparing the current political situation to the fall of Dhaka, the PTI on Friday “owned” the post and demanded exactly what was initially called for, that people read the Hamoodur Rehman Commission report and the military should work within its constitutional limits.

In a statement issued after its core committee meeting on Friday, the party claimed that the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) was hell-bent on making another case against Imran Khan, who is currently incarcerated in Rawalpindi’s Adiala Jail.

Over the past couple of days, top PTI leaders including Chairman Gohar Ali Khan, MNA Ali Muhammad Khan and party spokesperson Raoof Hasan had insisted that Imran Khan did not have access to his Twitter account and the post had been put up by “someone else”.

But Zain Qureshi, son of ex-foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who is also imprisoned in connection with the cipher case, seemed to contradict that stance when he said that no content was uploaded on Mr Khan’s own Twitter account without his consent.

Rivals urge Imran ‘to stay quiet’

On the other hand, leaders from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leaders urged Mr Khan to “stay quiet” if he wanted to de-escalate the situation, and that the PTI core committee had endorsed the government’s stance, i.e. that the post was uploaded on the social media with the party founder’s approval.

“Imran Khan should keep his mouth shut if he wants to de-escalate the situation,” Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo News, hinting that back channels were working to de-escalate the situation.

He claimed that Mr Khan wanted to create another May 9-like situation in the country.

Meanwhile, Senator Irfan Siddiqui said Mr Khan had to answer for what he had posted on social media, while Information Minister Attaullah Tarar said the PTI core committee was not on the same page on the matter, as their statement endorsed the view that the party founder was in the picture about the content of the post shared from his X account.

Controversial post

Also on Friday, an FIA team visited Adiala Jail in a bid to quiz the PTI founder regarding the post, in connection with the investigation launched by the its Cyber Crime Wing into the post.

However, sources said Mr Khan refused to meet the investigators, saying he will only meet them in the presence of his lawyer.

On May 26, Mr Khan’s official account shared a video along with a quote attributed to him: “Every Pakistani should study the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report and get to know who was the true traitor, General Yahya Khan or Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.”

The video argued that the former military dictator was the one actually responsible for the country’s breakup, referring to alleged atrocities committed by the Pakistani military during the civil war.

The video also interspe­rsed images of the current civilian and military leadership, alleging that they stole the party’s mandate in the general elections.

Defending the post, Barrister Gohar had earlier insisted that the message was making a political point and did not target the military.

In a recent appearance on an ARY News talk show, PTI spokesperson Raoof Hasan had said that Mr Khan’s account was managed by his team as he was incarcerated and did not have access to social media.

He had also revealed that this team consisted of volunteers based around the world, including the US.

But this seemed to clash with the stance put forward by MNA Zain Qureshi, who was adamant that nothing was published on Mr Khan’s own X account without his consent.

Differing opinions

Another PTI leader, Ali Muhammad Khan, seemed to favour de-escalation, saying on Friday that this was not the time to recall the 1971 debacle, adding: “We should not repeat the same mistakes.”

He said it had been deci­ded that in the future, no post would be uploaded to Mr Khan’s official X acc­ount without his consent.

But in its statement following Friday’s core committee meeting, the party said: “Hamoodur Rehman [Commission] Report must be made public to avoid 1971 like grave challenges, learning a lesson from the past and apprised the people that what exactly happened in 1971.”

“National affairs speci­ally political matters must be run according to the law and the constitutions and the army should fulfill its responsibility of defending the country by keeping itself within the constitutional limits,” it added.

“The fall of East Pakistan is a gravest tragedy in the country’s history which has political implications that were comprehensively elaborated by Hamoodur Rehman Commission formed by the government of Pakistan,” the statement said.

Comparing the country’s political scenario during the last two years with 1971 incidents, the PTI urged “the decision makers” to return to their constitutional limits and learn from past mistakes.

“In 1971 debacle, the most important aspect was rejection of the people’s mandate which is also presently prevailing in the country,” it added.

The statement said the deadliest impact pointed by the PTI founder on the national integrity, constitution, democracy and specially the country’s armed forces due to “one man rule” provided food for thought to the people.

The party also said it had finalised a line of action to deal with the legal notice issued by FIA to the party founder.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2024

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