Pakistan’s embattled former prime minister Imran Khan has openly accused the powerful army and its intelligence agency of trying to destroy his political party, saying he has “no doubt” that he will be tried in a military court. Will be done and put in jail.
Khan had previously hinted at the military’s hand in the crackdown on the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, but his comments in an interview at his Lahore home on Saturday night were his most candid yet.
“It’s a complete setup,” the former cricket hero told Reuters when asked who was behind the rift. “The establishment clearly means the military establishment, because they’re really openly now – I mean, it’s not even hidden anymore – they’re just out in the open.”
A spokesman for the army, which has run the country directly or indirectly for much of its 75-year history, and has rarely faced a public challenge to its power as has Khan, did not respond to a request for comment. Gave.
Pakistan’s most popular leader, according to polls, a year-long standoff between Khan and the military reached a climax when military buildings and property were vandalized last month allegedly by his supporters.
Political unrest has added to uncertainty in the nuclear-armed country of 220 million, which is also beset by financial turmoil. Its $350 billion economy is struggling to avoid default, control record inflation and deal with a falling currency.
Khan quelled the violent protests that erupted after he was briefly arrested, a “false flag operation” aimed at targeting him.
Authorities have begun the process of trying dozens of people, including members of his party, suspected of involvement in the protests in a military court – usually reserved for service members or people classified as enemies of the state.
Khan said, “That’s the only way they’ll put me in jail.”
He said that around 150 criminal cases filed against him were frivolous and would be thrown out in any civilian court.
“So their only hope, and because they are determined to get me out of the way, I think they will, their whole point of military courts is to imprison me,” he said.
Released on bail, Khan said, ‘I have no doubt that the military courts are for me.’
Amnesty International says Pakistan’s military courts have previously shown a disregard for due process, a lack of transparency, forced 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 operation.
He said that two senior members of his party were called for talks by the agency. And when they went there, they silenced them and said that you will not leave till you become a part of PTI.
Khan said that he has tried to contact the military for talks to find a way out of the current crisis, but has received no response, and that he does not know whether the army chief, General Asim Munir, is trying to sideline him. Why were you “curious”.
Before becoming the army chief in November 2022, Munir was the head of the ISI – a post from which he was abruptly removed in 2019 when 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 Munir’s premature removal, but Khan admitted in interviews for the first time that he wanted him removed from the role.
Khan said, “I think maybe he has some grudge because I asked him to resign as ISI chief.” “I don’t know.”
When asked why he asked Munir to resign, Khan said: “You know, I, as prime minister, feel how the intelligence agency is run… I have my issues with it.” Were.” He didn’t elaborate.
Munir was later chosen as the country’s top military commander by Khan’s successor and political rival, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Referring to the removal of Munir as ISI chief, Khan said, “He should not have any problem with it now as he is the army chief.” “Then why would he bear that grudge?”
Khan said he was surprised by the campaign against him.
”(I) have someone 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 famous Pakistani, and is suddenly being treated as a foreigner, as an enemy of the state In .”
(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – reuters,