Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Saturday connected the current situation in Pakistan to the chief of army staff’s appointment, terming it “unfortunate” that everything in the country was happening over one appointment.
In a conversation with social media influencers in the federal capital, the former premier said that the army chief should be appointed on the basis of merit.
“A drama begins on the appointment of army chief which does not happen in any part of the world,” he said, adding that the army could not unite a country single-handedly. “If the army could unite the country, Pakistan would not have been divided” in 1971, he said.
He said the “neutrals” – a term he frequently uses for the military establishment – cannot pressurise the PTI to accept the incumbent “mafia government”.
Meanwhile, addressing the participants of a rally in Islamabad’s F-9 Park to express solidarity with embattled party leader Shahbaz Gill and record a protest against the “blatant fascism prevalent under [the] imported regime!”, the PTI chief called on the “neutrals” to stand with the nation, justice and Pakistan, instead of “thieves”, referring to government leaders.
“I’m asking and want to say to the neutrals [that] this is a matter of the country. It’s very important for you to stand with the nation, justice and Pakistan and not these thieves (government leaders).” Imran said he wanted to ask the neutrals if they were “really neutral”. He alleged that whenever police officials were questioned about current events, they said they were not at fault and had gotten “orders from” high-ups.
“When I asked Islamabad police that ‘tell me what did you do [to Shahbaz Gill]’, I got an answer that ‘we did nothing, we got a boot from behind [to follow orders]’.”
Similarly, he alleged that when the time had come to pursue action and register cases against Lahore’s deputy inspector general (DIG) of police and capital city police officer for their treatment of PTI workers on May 25, “so our people there [in the Punjab government] got afraid and said: ‘We got telephone [calls] from there to not touch them’.” He also warned that he would “not leave” Islamabad’s inspector general (IG), deputy inspector general, and female magistrate, vowing to file cases against them for torturing Shahbaz Gill.
“We will not spare the IG and DIG,” he said, and called out Additional District and Sessions judge Zeba Chaudhry, who last week had approved Gill’s two-day physical remand at the request of the capital police, and said she too should prepare herself as the case would also be registered against her.
He went on to say that if a case could be registered against Gill then Fazlur Rehman, Nawaz Sharif, and Rana Sanaullah would also face judicial proceedings. “They (coalition government) are trying to scare us by torturing Gill,” he said, adding that this was a “decisive moment” for the people of the country.
Reiterating his stance of not bowing down before the ‘idol of fear’, he said, “If we bow down then we will have to face slavery although in the garb of Gill’s arrest they are trying to enslave the people.”
Imran maintained that what happened to Gill was not because of what he said, since coalition leaders in the government had “said much more than that to really deal damage to the army”.
He alleged that Gill was “caught and tortured” to send a message and frighten the people that if he could be broken mentally then anyone could.
Rejecting dialogue with the coalition government, the PTI chief said that he would not talk to corrupt people. “To sit and talk with corrupt people is to accept their corruption,” he added. “Charter of the economy is a fraud,” he said, adding that the coalition leaders should bring back their foreign properties if they wanted a charter of economy.
He claimed that the PTI was the only national party in the country right now, adding that he would not take any decision that was not in the country’s interest. Reiterating that transparent elections were the only way to stabilise the situation, the former premier said that he would give the tickets for the upcoming elections himself.
“We took the Punjab government back so we could remove Hamza Shehbaz as the chief minister,” he said. He alleged that a conspiracy was being hatched to pit the party and army against each other, warning that there would be bloodshed in the country in case of any clash.
Imran said he had summoned the rally on a 24-hour notice to highlight how Gill was being treated and also the restrictions being imposed on ARY News channel.
“They shut down … ARY not because it made any mistake. They closed it because it was showing the truth and delivering my message and the people’s message to the public.” He said other channels were also threatened with consequences if they “don’t fall in line”.