Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Arrest ‘expected’, says Imran Khan; asks supporters ‘not to sit silent’

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Lahore: Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran Khan on Saturday in a pre-recorded video said that his arrest was “expected” and asked his supporters “not to sit silent” and stand up for their rights and freedom. The 70-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman was arrested from his Zaman Park residence here after the Islamabad trial court convicted him in the Toshakhana case and sentenced him to three-year imprisonment. In a pre-recorded statement on X, formerly known as Twitter, Khan said, “By the time this video message reaches you, I would be arrested and in jail…which is why I have a request…an appeal to all of you…you should not sit at home in silence.

These earnest efforts of mine are not for me but for my people, my community, for you. I am doing it for you. I am doing it for the good fortune of your children.”

“If you will not stand for your rights, you will live a life of slavery, and mind you, slaves do not have a life,” he said.

Freedom, the former prime minister said, doesn’t come on a platter.

“They (the military establishment and the Shehbaz Sharif-led government) want to enslave you, but you have to stand up for your rights and freedom,” he said, urging people to exercise their voting rights to remove the corrupt government in the next elections.

Pakistan is likely to have general elections in the coming months as the current National Assembly’s term will end on August 12.

In the tweet accompanying the video, Khan said his arrest was expected, so he recorded the message before his arrest.

“It is one more step in fulfilling the London Plan (made by PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif) but I want my party workers to remain peaceful, steadfast and strong. We bow before no one but Allah who is Al Haq. We believe in La illaha Ilallah,” he said in the tweet.

Earlier on May 9, Pakistan saw unprecedented nationwide anti-government protests by PTI supporters following Khan’s arrest by paramilitary Rangers in a corruption case. He was later released on bail.

Dozens of military installations and government buildings, including the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, were damaged or torched during the riots. Over 100 vehicles of police and other security agencies were set on fire. After the May 9 violence, the police backed by the military launched a crackdown on the PTI and arrested 10,000 party workers, including women. Over 100 have been handed over to the military for their trial under the Army Act.

The PTI contests that its members were not involved in the attacks, but the government and military reject the claims and say they have “irrefutable evidence” of their involvement.

Khan is also facing numerous cases related to attacks on military installations. Currently, he is facing more than 150 cases related to terrorism, murder and blasphemy.

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. The US has repeatedly dismissed his allegations.

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