Former prime minister Imran Khan on Wednesday accused the coalition government of hatching a conspiracy to pit the PTI and the army against each other.
“They have prepared a plan to crush the PTI,” he said in an address to his supporters via video link from Islamabad.
Imran’s statements come after the government alleged that the ex-premier and other PTI leaders were spreading hate against the country’s institutions. On Tuesday, PTI leader Shahbaz Gill was arrested on charges of sedition and inciting the public against state institutions.
Gill was presented in Islamabad High Court on Wednesday where the police were granted his two-day physical remand.
In his address today, Imran said that a “frightening conspiracy” was being hatched to present “Pakistan’s biggest political party and the army as opponents.”
“Let me tell you […] this plot is extremely dangerous and can damage the country,” he said, recalling that when the PTI came into power, the coalition government was “pained” to see his relationship with the army.
“This Nawaz and Zardari who are calling us traitors today went on international platforms and gave interviews against the army,” the PTI chief said and then went on to play clips of the coalition leaders’ past statements.
“Today, it’s being said that we are against the army and now they’ve become the patriots who are calling us traitors.”
Imran continued that all of it was being done to break the party because “right now PTI, on both federal and provincial levels has the biggest voter bank in the country”.
“And the first tactic they have used is in front of you […] the foreign funding case.”
He claimed that the case was baseless. “They are just trying to show that the money we collected from overseas Pakistanis is illegal. They are accusing the party that collected money from fundraising and has credible audit reports.”
For the past four to five years, courts have been saying that audits of the funds of all the political parties should be conducted, Imran said.
“But the ECP (Election Commission of Pakistan) knows that these parties raised money illegally and this is the reason why it won’t investigate them,” the former prime minister claimed, adding that the day the matter was investigated by courts, it would be proven that “only PTI raised money lawfully in Pakistan”.
He added that the same was being done in the Toshakhana reference, saying that all the past prime ministers and presidents and people appointed to higher ranks got gifts, including the army chief.
“Investigate all of them,” Imran demanded, claiming that both cases were being used to disqualify him.
The PTI chairman maintained that his party had always thought about Pakistan at every juncture. He said the PTI possessed the street power to “shut down the entire country” but current economic conditions were such that everyone should worry about them.
“Even when we demonstrate, it is peaceful. Tell us of any single incident where we did vandalism or tried to harm the country.”
Talking about Gill’s arrest, Imran said that no action was taken against PML-N leaders Nawaz Sharif, Maryam Nawaz, and others when they spoke against the army.
“What Shahbaz Gill said, if it was against the law, it’s very easy […] the law and Constitution should tell the procedure [to be initiated against Gill]
“But breaking his car’s mirrors and attacking his driver is unjustified,” he deplored, adding that Gill should have at least been given a chance to justify his statements in court.
The PTI chairman also raised concerns over rumours of a “deal between Pakistan and the West over using the country’s airspace”, warning that any such thing would only lead to further destruction and loss of life in the country.
“If we have made such a deal, I want to say this again […] we helped in the past […] after that, we were used, we were sanctioned […] we received threats and the nation paid a huge price.”
He went on that if Pakistan became a part of “that agenda again just a few dollars”, the result would be the same. “We will get trapped in a conflict again […] the loss will be more and the benefit less.”
Imran also highlighted the rise in activities by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in the northern areas. “They are targetting and threatening PTI ministers there,” he said, adding that this seemed like another conspiracy to weaken the party.
The former prime minister also said that attempts were being made to assassinate his character and “trap him in cases”.
“They know which media houses will cooperate with them […] that are run on money […] they will cooperate with people and assassinate my character.”
Imran went on that after news channels, the government would approach social media influencers and YouTubers and force them to “humiliate me publicly”.
“This action that they have taken against ARY NEWS is also part of that plan,” he alleged, adding that any channel or social media platform that supports PTI’s narrative would be taken down in the upcoming days.
But Imran cautioned that “all these processes and breakdown will only damage the country”. “Whoever is doing this planning, is it good for Pakistan? […] Pakistan needs political stability the most at this time.”
He also alleged that there were attempts to bring about a situation for Nawaz’s return and stand him on equal footing as the PTI chief as both being disqualified so they should be allowed to contest elections.
The PTI chief further expressed the fear that the country was being taken to that point where it would have to compromise on its national security to escape the situation.
He said there was only one way out of the current situation, fair and free elections.