Islamabad/Lahore: Imran Khan has torn into Pakistan’s Army chief General Asim Munir and blamed him for his “abduction” after a court here set the former prime minister free and barred his re-arrest in any case until Monday.
A triumphant Khan returned to his Lahore home on Saturday after having locked himself in the Islamabad High Court (IHC) premises for hours for fear of re-arrest despite being granted bail on Friday.
Before leaving for Lahore, the 70-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief hit out at the “imported government for kidnapping” him despite the IHC granting him bail in all cases.
The crowd also kept shouting slogans hailing the 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician and denouncing Pakistan’s coalition government which succeeded him in April last year.
But there was high drama in the Islamabad High Court even after he was granted protective bail for two weeks in a corruption case and the authorities were told not to arrest him in any case until Monday (May 15).
Islamabad standoff: Three different benches granted relief to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief.
Before his departure for Lahore in Punjab after securing blanket bail in a number of cases related to treason, violence, and corruption, Imran Khan was made to stay more than three hours in the court by the Islamabad police.
He finally left the court premises after a protracted standoff with the authorities.
Imran Khan, who is seeking early general elections, is facing over 120 cases across the country.
He accused the Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IG) Akbar Nasir of trying to detain him at the high court.
“They did not let us leave for three hours, saying it is dangerous outside,” the PTI chief said in a video message from his vehicle while being driven back to Lahore.
He said he told the officer that he would tell the entire Pakistan that he was kidnapping him. That worked and he was allowed to go.
The Islamabad police later issued a statement saying providing security was a bilateral matter where the cooperation of the subject was required.
“Imran Khan did not cooperate with us for security arrangements, thus he is responsible for his actions. If anything happens to him (Khan), the state institutions will not be responsible,” it said.
Imran Khan’s arrest on Tuesday (May 9) by the Pakistan Rangers at the Islamabad High Court triggered widespread protests in Pakistan which continued till Friday (May 12).
The protesters attacked dozens of military and state installations, including the army headquarters in Rawalpindi. A corps commander’s house in Lahore was torched.
Police put the death toll in violent clashes at 10 while the PTI claimed that 40 of its workers lost their lives in firing by security personnel.
Imran blames Army chief: Imran Khan has since distanced himself from the violent protests but reiterated that the army chief, General Asim Munir, was to blame for the way he was seized by Pakistan Rangers from the court on May 9.
“It is not the security agencies. It is one man, the army chief. There is no democracy in the army,” he told BBC. “The army is getting maligned (because of) what is happening.”
He explained why the army chief was acting thus.
“He is worried that if I come to power, I will de-notify him. Which, I tried my best to send him a message, I will not. All this is happening (due to) direct orders from him. He is the one who is convinced that if I win, he will be de-notified.”
Imran Khan also alleged that government agencies had arrested 5,000 PTI activists across Pakistan during the last year. Media reports say around 550 PTI leaders at various levels have been detained in the latest turmoil.
Meanwhile, the military has ruled out imposing martial law in the country.
“I want to say very clearly that Gen Asim Munir and the senior army leadership under him wholeheartedly support democracy and will keep doing so. There is no question of martial law,” a military statement said.