Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif censured his predecessor Imran Khan on Thursday, accusing him of “making threats against the country”, deeming him “unfit for public office” and warning him against “talking about [the] division of Pakistan”.
Former president Asif Ali Zardari also condemned Imran’s remarks in a late-night statement shared on his party’s Twitter.
The prime minister made these remarks in a Twitter post that referred to an interview of Imran with a news channel that was aired on Wednesday night during which the PTI chief urged the establishment to make the “right decisions” and warned that if Pakistan were to lose its nuclear deterrence, it would dismember into “three pieces”.
Imran said the current political situation was a problem for the country as well as the establishment. “If the establishment doesn’t make the right decisions, then I can assure [you] in writing that [before everyone else] they and the army will be destroyed because what will become of the country if it goes bankrupt,” he said.
“Pakistan is going towards a default. If that happens then which institution will be [worst] hit? The army. After it is hit, what concession will be taken from us? Denuclearisation,” he said. “If the right decisions aren’t made at this time then the country is going towards suicide.”
Hours after the interview was broadcast, PM Shehbaz tweeted: “While I am in Turkey inking agreements, Imran Niazi is making naked threats against the country. If at all any proof was needed that Niazi is unfit for public office, his latest interview suffices.”
“Do your politics but don’t dare to cross limits and talk about [the] division of Pakistan,” he warned the PTI chairperson.
In a separate statement shared on the PML-N’s Twitter, the premier said Imran’s remarks were proof that the PTI chief was “involved in a conspiracy, not politics”.
He said Imran was spreading “chaos” due to his “frustration and sick mentality”, and that his statement was similar to those of Pakistan’s enemies.
“This is not a statement but a conspiracy to spark the fire of anarchy and division in the country,” PM Shehbaz said.
“Losing power does not mean that you wage a war against Pakistan, its unity and its institutions,” he said, warning Imran not to “attack” the federation and country’s institutions. “Don’t exceed the limits [defined] by the law and Constitution.”
The prime minister said the nation would not accept such “nefarious” plans at any cost and would not let them succeed. He vowed to defeat such “impure” aims.
ASIF ZARDARI: People’s Party Co-chairman Asif Zardari tweeted, “No one can talk about fragmenting Pakistan. This is not that language of a Pakistani but that of [Indian PM] Modi,” he said.
“Imran Khan, power is not everything in this world. Be brave and learn to do politics standing on your own feet,” Zardari berated the PTI chief, saying that the “wish of dividing this country into three pieces cannot be realised until we and our future generations live”.
He concluded his statement by saying that “God willing, Pakistan will survive till the Day of Judgement”.
The statement said Zardari had instructed the PPP to protest Imran’s “impure statement”.
SAAD RAFIQUE: Railways Minister Khawaja Saad Rafique said Pakistan’s nuclear programme was “safer in the hands of those” who started it and carried out nuclear tests — a reference to his party, the PML-N, which leads the incumbent coalition government.
He demanded Imran to elaborate on what right decisions the “army” needed to make.
The minister said the “incompetent PTI’s policy of hate, revenge and division had brought the country on the brink of destruction” and alleged that Imran had been “conspiring against democracy since 2011 to come to power”.
He said Imran should improve his “manners, behaviour, language and character before advising the army”.
Saad said Imran should leave behind the “agenda of anarchy and hate” and “learn to become a part of the political community before addressing the judiciary and army”.
“The day political parties become capable of devising a national agenda, the limit of institutions would be automatically defined,” the minister said. “Pakistan, God willing, will remain united. [And] the role of political leadership, judiciary, army and media is important in keeping the country stable,” the minister said.
AHSAN IQBAL: Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal claimed that by “right decisions” Imran meant “to bring him back in [the] PM Office”.
“What a shame. IK has lost his mind and patriotism in his revenge for losing power,” Iqbal tweeted.
MARYAM NAWAZ: PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz lambasted Imran Khan for talking about dividing the country into “three parts” and asked him who influenced him to say so.
“Whose ideology is it? Did Zac Goldsmith influence you to this ideology or Israel?” she questioned Imran while speaking to the media in Islamabad.
Zac Goldsmith is the brother of Khan’s ex-wife, Jemima Goldsmith.
Maryam said that the entire nation has taken notice of his words and is angered by them.
She said that “Imran has lost his sanity after losing power but the truth is that power never belonged to him, to begin with,” she said.
“Whoever said such a thing about the country, his own party will break into 300 pieces.”
She said that the mandate Imran is grieving over was “false” and one that he “snatched from the public.”
“I have never seen a person becoming restless for power to this extent,” she added.
She appealed to the government to “form a medical board comprising psychologists and mental health experts to examine Imran’s mental state.”
Maryam claimed that the PTI chairman failed within 30 days of assuming the office of prime minister and was exposed within 30 days after his ouster.
She asked under what right did Imran Khan talk about Pakistan’s atomic programme. “Does he have any role in making Pakistan an atomic power?”