Imran Khan party denies its involvement in violence

Islamabad: Pakistan’s main opposition party on Thursday denied any involvement in the violent protests that erupted after the arrest of its chief Imran Khan, describing the army’s terse statement as “contrary to facts” and “based on a poor understanding of ground realities.” In a statement shared on Twitter, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said it believes in achieving its goals by remaining peaceful, non-violent and adhering to the Constitution.

“PTI has always discouraged deviance from the Constitution and law. The public reaction after the arrest of Imran Khan is connected to many factors,” it said.

“The statement is a sad collection of hatred and revenge-based narratives against the most reliable, popular and largest political party of Pakistan,” the party said.

It said the statement issued on Wednesday by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Army’s media wing, was “contrary to facts” and “based on a poor understanding of ground realities,” the Dawn newspaper reported.

PTI’s rebuttal comes a day after the Pakistan Army on Wednesday warned former prime minister Khan’s supporters of “severe retaliation” in the wake of attacks on its installations.

Enraged over the arrest of their leader in a corruption case on Tuesday, the supporters of the PTI chief stormed the General Headquarters of the Army. They set the residence of the Lahore Corps Commander on fire while attacking military vehicles and installations.

“We will not allow anyone to take the law into their hands,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Army’s media wing said in a terse statement.

The ISPR said that on the one hand, these miscreants evoke the nation’s emotions for achieving their “limited and selfish objectives” and on the other hand, they deceive people, continuing to highlight the army’s importance.

“This is an example of hypocrisy,” it stated.

The military’s media wing said that “this group wearing a political cloak” has done what enemies could not do in 75 years, all “in the lust for power”.

May 9 will be remembered as a “black chapter” in history due to the protestors “targeting army property and installations” after the arrest of Khan, it said.

“The army showed patience and restraint and exercised extreme tolerance, not even caring about its reputation, in the larger interest of the country,” the statement said.

“Any further attack on the army, including all law enforcement agencies, military and state installations and properties will be severely retaliated, the responsibility of which will be on this very group that wants to push Pakistan into a civil war and has expressed it multiple times,” it said.

The army’s remarks came a day after paramilitary forces whisked away Khan on the orders of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) officials who barged into a room of the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday.

An anti-corruption court on Wednesday sent the former prime minister on an eight-day physical remand to the anti-corruption watchdog.

At least eight people have died and nearly 300 others injured across Pakistan in violent clashes between Khan’s supporters and security forces.