- Former prime minister says if Shahbaz Gill said something against the law, the state should have provided him a chance to explain himself
Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said on Wednesday that efforts were underway to drive a wedge between his political party and Pakistan Army as part of the US-backed regime change conspiracy, Aaj News reported.
Addressing a press conference following the arrest of PTI leader Shahbaz Gill on charges of sedition and inciting the public against state institutions, Imran said that the regime change conspiracy has not ended yet, adding that the "second phase of the conspiracy has just started."
He said that even during his tenure, the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) tried to create controversies between PTI and the country's armed forces.
“Indian media and their local supporters openly criticised civil-military understanding,” he said.
The PTI chief said that Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif also spoke against the interests of Pakistan after the Mumbai attacks.
“Nawaz and Zardari who are calling us traitors today went on international platforms and gave interviews against the army,” the PTI chief said.
“Today, it’s being said that we are against the army and now they’ve become the patriots who are calling us traitors. Now, the impression is being created that they are patriotic and we [PTI] are anti-military."
Speaking about Gill's arrest, Imran said that if what he [Gill] said was against the law, the state should have followed the protocol and provided him a chance to explain himself as per the law.
The former premier said that the PDM parties had said much more than what Gill is being punished for, but no action was taken against them.
He said that the PTI is Pakistan's largest political party and has very strong street power.
"If we come to retaliate, we can shut down the country within an hour, but we don't want to take extreme measures as it will only hurt the country's economy, which is already in bad shape."
He warned that the current political situation was going to get even worse, and the only option to come out of this crisis was to hold free and fair elections.
The PTI chairman said that the foreign funding case against his party 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.”
Imran claimed that efforts are being made to break the party so it could be cut down to size.
“Whoever is doing this planning, is it good for Pakistan?" he asked.
The former premier said that Pakistan required "political stability the most at this time."
He went on to say that attempts were being made to malign his image by trapping him in bogus cases.
Imran Khan also highlighted the rise in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacks in the country's northern areas.
"The group is targeting and threatening PTI ministers," he said, adding that this seemed like another conspiracy to weaken his party.