Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday rejected allegations that he had sought to malign the Pakistan Army during an address in Abbottabad, claiming that his references to Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq were intended for leaders of the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz).
Addressing party workers, he claimed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had falsely accused him of “hatching a grand conspiracy against Pakistan,” adding that he had specifically sought to target the Sharif brothers. “Elder brother [Nawaz Sharif] use to speak against the Army and his daughter [Maryam Nawaz] is also attacking Army. On the other hand, Shehbaz Sharif says he is defending Army. Today India is more than happy because the people who used to meet Narendra Modi without announcing meetings have come to power,” he added.
On Sunday, both the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) issued press releases warning politicians, journalists and social media users from maligning state institutions. In its statement, the military’s media wing reiterated its calls to avoid dragging it into politics. The statements are believed to a direct consequence of Khan’s speech, in which he had specified that Mir Jafar had betrayed his ruler, Sirajud Daulah, while acting as his commander-in-chief. It is unclear how this reference fits either Sharif brother, as neither has ever served in a command position under Khan.
Contrary to Khan’s claims, videos of Indian analysts have also emerged where they are celebrating the PTI’s campaign—and not its ouster or the rule of the incumbent government. In a video that has gone viral on social media, a former Indian military official has alleged that the kind of “damage” Khan and his supporters are doing to the Pakistan Army could have never been achieved by India no matter how much money they spent.
During his speech, Khan said his ongoing campaign for early elections and the ouster of the coalition government was a “jihad” and had gone beyond political matters. Reiterating that he would call his supporters to march on Islamabad after May 20, he said the PTI only wanted early elections and nothing else. He also appealed to his supporters who are unable to travel to Islamabad to protest in their own cities after the long march commences.
Urging his party workers to expedite their outreach efforts with the public to ensure maximum participation in the anti-government protest, the ousted prime minister claimed that the government wanted to arrest him but its plans would not be allowed to succeed. “I have no properties outside, I will stay in Pakistan,” he said. “I will never want something which damages my country,” he added.