Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday demanded an independent inquiry into the violence following his arrest last week as he distanced himself and his party from attacks on state and military installations.
Khan made the demand in an address to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore via video link, amid reports that his house has been surrounded by the police.
Ahead of his address, Khan said in a tweet that police had surrounded his house in an upscale area of Punjab’s provincial capital Lahore and he could be arrested. “Probably my last tweet before my next arrest. Police has (sic) surrounded my house,” the 70-year-old leader tweeted.
In his address, Khan said the ruling coalition is deliberately trying to create a conflict between his party and the powerful army.
“The cases that are being filed under military laws — it never happened before that without any investigation or independent inquiry … it was suddenly decided that PTI is a terrorist organisation,” Khan said, adding that 7,500 workers of his party have been arrested.
The former Prime Minister said he criticises the army the same way he criticises his children, which is for reform.
“The Pakistan Democratic Movement is trying for a confrontation between the army and PTI... But who will come out as the winner in this?” he asked.
Khan said he has defended the Pakistan Army across the world. “I was a known face. Name another Pakistani who defended the army the way I did on international media,” he asked.
“And I did it because I am a free man. I never accepted slavery.”
Recalling the incidents leading to the creation of Bangladesh (erstwhile East Pakistan), Khan said, “I am afraid today that Pakistan is on the route to destruction.”
“I fear that if wisdom is not exercised today, we might reach a stage where we wouldn’t even be able to pick up the pieces,” he said.
Meanwhile, DawnNewsTV reported that all the roads leading to Khan’s Zaman Park residence have been blocked by the police.
Video footage from the site showed a huge contingent of Punjab police personnel outside his residence, it added.
Earlier, Punjab’s caretaker information minister Amir Mir had claimed that some “30 to 40” terrorists are hiding at the Lahore residence of Khan.
Responding to Mir’s claim, Khan in his address asked him to come with a search warrant.