Islamabad: Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan has said the stage has been set for his “court martial” after the country’s all-powerful army vowed to try the “masterminds and planners” of May 9 violence in military courts.
His remarks came a day after Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah accused Khan of planning the countrywide violence that erupted after his arrest in a corruption case on May 9.
Talking to reporters after appearing before the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Thursday in connection with 10 different cases, including two ongoing petitions and eight new bail petitions, the 70-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief said he knew he would be tried by a military court.
He termed a civilian’s trial in the military court as the “end of democracy” and the “end of justice” in Pakistan.
“The trial in the military court will be illegal,” he was quoted as saying by the Dawn newspaper.
“They knew that over 150 cases registered against me are baseless and there is no chance of my conviction in these bogus cases, therefore, they have decided to conduct my trial in the military court,” Khan said.
Pakistan’s powerful army on Wednesday vowed to tighten the “noose of law” around “planners and masterminds” who mounted a “hate-ripened and politically-driven rebellion” against the state.
Khan dispelled the impression of being sidelined within the party and also dismissed the rumours about leaving Pakistan.
“I don’t have money to live in any other country because the [UK] pound has crossed Rs 400 and I can’t afford to stay there,” he said.
He also rejected the rumours of a “bitter” meeting with PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi and said that he has cordial relations with the former foreign minister. Earlier, Khan spent four hours in the office of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in Rawalpindi and replied in detail to the queries of the accountability watchdog in the Al Qadir corruption case.
It was Khan’s second appearance in the case. During the last hearing, he was asked to provide further details regarding the questions asked by the NAB. In a setback to Khan, scores of disgruntled leaders who quit his party on Thursday launched a new political party to fight the general elections likely to be held in October.
Sugar baron and Khan’s old friend Jahangir Khan Tareen, who is leading the group of leaders announced the launch of the Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party (IPP) during a press conference in Lahore on Thursday.
“We are laying the foundation of a new political party – Istehkam-e-Pakistan Party,” said Tareen, flanked by former PTI leaders.
Tareen, who played a major role in the formation of the Imran Khan-led government in 2018, said that he joined politics to play his role for the betterment of the country.
“We have gathered at one platform to make joint efforts to lift the country out of this quagmire,” said Tareen, who was disqualified for life after the Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that he was found guilty in assets beyond means case.
He said that the country needed a political leadership which could resolve all prevailing issues including social, economic and others.
Reacting to the launch of the new party, the PTI rejected it, saying the country’s issues could not be resolved by launching parties with people who were “coming after forced divorces”.
“Launching new parties full of people that are coming after forced divorces is not the solution to the problems Pakistan faces,” the PTI said on its official Twitter handle.
The arrest of Khan by paramilitary personnel from the Islamabad High Court premises on May 9 triggered unrest in Pakistan, leading to several deaths and dozens of military and state installations being destroyed by the angry PTI protesters.
Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, 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.