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ISLAMABAD: The Minister for Defence, Khawaja Asif, on Friday appeared remorseless over the assassination bid on Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, saying the former prime minister was attacked for “crossing the red lines of religion”.

In a hard-hitting speech in the National Assembly, he plainly said that the PTI is using the attack on to further its “political objectives”.

Imran, who has been leading an anti-government protest march to the capital for almost a week, survived a gun attack on Thursday in Punjab’s Wazirabad. He sustained a wound in his shin when the container was hit by a volley of bullets.

A PTI supporter was killed in the incident and 14 others, including lawmakers, were injured. A suspect was arrested who, in a leaked video, confessed that he attempted to kill Imran.

Speaking in the house, the defence minister who used to be a staunch critic of ‘the powers that be’ before coming into power, openly shifted all the blame on the former prime minister, saying: “the videos of the suspect which surfaced after the attack show that religious fanaticism motivated the attack”.

“Time and time again, Imran Khan came close to crossing boundaries or he crossed the boundaries — he crossed the red lines of religion because of which a man attacked him,” he alleged.

The minister went on to quote the suspect as proof that Imran Khan had brought the attack upon himself. However, he did say that the assassination bid on Khan was an embarrassment for the nation, and it must be probed if there is a conspiracy behind it.

The defence minister stressed that “we should not refrain from taking any step that will prove to be helpful for us in this matter” and that the investigation into the incident and efforts to “go to the bottom of the matter” should not be politicised.

Asif also criticised the suspension of the police station staff in the remits of which the incident took place, saying the “staff there have been suspended not because the incident took place, but because the suspect’s video was leaked and the Punjab chief minister then transferred the case to (a police station) in his own district.”

He saw the move as “efforts to sabotage the matter, make it political and use it to achieve political objectives”, adding “for God’s sake, the entire nation is looking towards us and we are letting this incident fall victim to politics”.

The minister called for the culprits and those backing them to be exposed and constituting a joint investigation team on the incident.

“Don’t let this incident fall victim to politics,” he reiterated while adding: “They should go after the suspects, but all that they have been doing demonstrates that they are not interested in the investigation. They have made the prime minister, the interior minister and director general of counterintelligence of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as culprits.”

He recalled that Imran Khan previously said he had contacts in the establishment. “And now those contacts are being named in the murder attempt case,” the minister said.

“By naming politicians and a senior army officer, they are taking the matter in a direction where they will not find any clue or suspect,” he added.

He continued that there were also reports that shots were fired from both sides — “that a guard also fired”. “And not just bullet casings from a pistol — said to have been used by the suspect — but also those from a submachine gun were found at the site of the incident,” he added, citing social media reports.

He said that on October 28, the Intelligence Bureau informed the Punjab government an incident of such nature could take place “against you in the area or its vicinity”.

“There was a prior warning,” he said, adding, “But now, the incident was being used to achieve political objectives (and) I condemn it,” he said.

He also condemned what he described as using the event to defame any individuals or institutions, and at the same time, gave assurances that the federal government would fully support any steps taken to complete an inquiry into it and meet the “merits of justice”.

Noor Alam Khan, a PTI dissident, said that it is highly regrettable that workers of a political party are involved in running a defamatory campaign against officers of state institutions. He said protests outside senior officers of security institutions are regrettable.

Salahuddin Ayubi of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazal (JUI-F) said that violence cannot be justified for political objectives.

Shazia Marri of Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) said that there should be no violence in protest demonstrations, adding the assassination attempt on the former prime minister should be thoroughly investigated.

At the outset, newly elected parliamentarian of PML-N from Sargodha Zulfiqar Ali Bhatti took oath as MNA. The NA speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf administered oath to him.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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Rizwan Nov 05, 2022 04:29pm
Khawja SB is not serious he always cracks jokes .He is clue less to the Ground reality .
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Observer Nov 07, 2022 07:41am
Khwaja is another slave of the sharif’s. He will lie through his teeth to please his master .
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