Imran Khan openly alleges that the army is trying to destroy his party.
LAHORE (UrduLight.com) Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan has accused the powerful army and its intelligence agency of openly trying to destroy his political party, saying he has “no doubt” that he will be tried in a military court. They will be run and put in jail.
Khan has previously hinted at the military’s hand in the crackdown on his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, but his comments in an interview at his home in Lahore on Saturday night were his most blunt yet.
“It’s completely establishment,” the former cricket hero told Reuters, when asked who was behind the crackdown. “The establishment obviously means the military establishment, because they’re really out in the open now — I mean, it’s not even hidden anymore — they’re just out in the open.”
A spokesman for the army, which has ruled the country directly or indirectly in its 75-year history, and has rarely faced a public challenge to its authority as it has from Khan, commented Did not respond to the request.
A year-long standoff between Khan, Pakistan’s most popular leader according to polls, and the military came to a head last month when his supporters allegedly vandalized military buildings and property.
Political unrest has added to the uncertainty in the nuclear-armed nation of 220 million, which is also suffering from a financial crisis. Its $350 billion economy is struggling to stave off default, control record inflation and cope with a falling currency.
Khan called the violent protests, which erupted after his brief arrest, a “false flag operation” aimed at targeting him.
Authorities have begun the process of prosecuting dozens of people, including members of his party, suspected of involvement in the protests in a military court – usually classified as serving members or enemies of the state.
“This is the only way they will put me in jail,” Khan said, adding that the military wanted to prevent him from returning to power in elections due by November.
He said that around 150 criminal cases registered against him were frivolous and would be thrown out in any civil court.
“So their only hope, and since they’re determined to get me out of the way, I think they will, is to imprison me through their whole chain of military courts.”
“I have no doubt that the military courts are for me,” said Khan, who is out on bail.
Amnesty International says Pakistan’s military courts have previously ignored due process, lack of transparency, coerced confessions and executions after unfair trials.
Khan said the country’s most powerful spy agency, the army’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), was deeply involved in the crackdown.
He said that the agency had called two senior members of his party for a discussion. “And when they went there, they shut them down and said ‘You (won’t) go unless you become a part of PTI’.”
Khan said that he had tried to contact the army for talks to end the current crisis but had received no response, and that he did not know whether Army Chief General Asim Munir would sideline him. Why was it “continuous”?
Before becoming army chief in November 2022, Munir headed the ISI – a post from which he was abruptly removed in 2019 while Khan was prime minister.
Khan himself was ousted last year in a parliamentary vote that he says was orchestrated by Pakistan’s top generals. The army denies this.
No official reason was given for Muneer’s early removal, but Khan admitted for the first time in an interview that he wanted her out of the role.
“I think he might be resentful because I asked him to resign,” Khan said. “I dont know.”
When asked why he asked Munir to resign, Khan said: “You know, as prime minister, I realized how the intelligence agency was run… I had my problems with it. ” He did not elaborate.
Munir was later selected as the country’s top general by Khan’s successor and political rival, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
“He shouldn’t have any problem with it now because he is the army chief,” Khan said, referring to Munir’s removal as ISI chief. “So why would he harbor this hatred?”
Khan said he was worried about the campaign against him.
“(I am) a person who has been known in this country for 50 years, who has probably won all the awards in this country and is probably the most well-known Pakistani, and he is suddenly being treated like a stranger. , an enemy of the state.”