Islamabad | Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan has blamed Army chief General Asim Munir for his “abduction” on May 9 and distanced himself from the violence across the country after his dramatic arrest from a court here.
He expressed these views during an informal chat with media persons on the premises of Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday, the Dawn newspaper reported on Saturday.
In a major relief to Khan, the IHC on Friday granted him protective bail for two weeks in a corruption case and barred the authorities from arresting the former Pakistan prime minister in any case registered anywhere in the country until Monday.
Three different benches of the IHC granted relief to the 70-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief who was escorted to the court amid tight security.
While talking to a BBC correspondent during the break time, Khan said: “It's not the security agencies. It's one man, the Army chief. There is no democracy in the Army. The Army is getting maligned with what is happening,” he replied when asked about the impression that security agencies were against him whereas the judiciary was favouring him.
“And he [the Army chief] is worried that if I come to power, I will de-notify him...All this is happening is direct orders from him. He is the one who is convinced that if I win, he will be de-notified,” alleged Khan.
Khan was arrested by paramilitary Rangers from the Islamabad High Court while he was undergoing a biometric process before a court hearing.
The Rangers, which operate under the Interior Ministry, are usually commanded by officers on secondment from the Pakistan Army.
The ex-premier also talked about the “victimisation” of his party by the government, alleging that “5,000 people have been arrested during the last one year”.
He said he had survived two assassination attempts and had only called for an investigation, regretting that his demand had been rejected.
When another journalist asked Khan about getting relief from the Supreme Court which had never been provided to any other politician, the PTI chief said how it could be called a relief when he was still sitting in the court.
“I am sitting in the Islamabad High Court. They had no justification to arrest me. I was abducted. They showed me a warrant for the first time after taking me to jail. This happens only where there is a law of the jungle and where the Army abducts [people],” he said.
“Where is the law? Where are the police? It seems that martial law has been declared [in the country],” he said.
Reiterating his position which he took in the Supreme Court on Thursday evening, Khan said he was totally unaware of the developments which took place after his arrest and claimed that he had learnt that 40 people had lost their lives during the two-day protests.
Khan also alleged that he was tortured and hit by a baton on his head at the time of his arrest. He, however, described his treatment while he was in the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) as “fair”.
Khan said that what happened after his arrest was beyond his control.
“How could I be blamed for those incidents that happened while I was in custody?” he wondered while responding to his critics who were blaming him for violent protests and damage to private and public property during the countrywide agitation.
Separately, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took Khan to task for targeting the Army chief.
“This is the same mindset that falsely accused patriotic army officers of their murders, and spun false stories of ciphers and foreign conspiracies. This is anti-nationalism and the manifestation of the real ambitions of the terrorist masterminds,” he said.
Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
Sharif also said that the statement is an admission that what happened on May 9 happened at the behest of Khan. Sharif also blamed Khan for the desecration of martyrs' and martyrs' memorials and the attack on sensitive installations and buildings.
The Prime Minister said that Khan's issue with General Munir is that as the ISI chief, he came to know the corruption of Khan, his wife and others.
On Friday, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry said that the army is united despite internal miscreants and external enemies.
“The dream of dividing the Pakistan Army will remain a dream, the Army is united under the leadership of Army Chief General Asim Munir and will remain united,” the military spokesman said.