Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected allegations that he was involved in the assassination attempt on opposition leader Imran Khan, as supporters of the former prime minister continue to protest, demanding an investigation into the shooting.
Khan was shot in the leg during an anti-government rally on Thursday. The cricketer-turned-politician has blamed Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a top general of the Pakistan army for attempting to assassinate him.
“I don’t have the right to remain in office if there is any shred of evidence found regarding my involvement in this case,” Sharif said on Saturday, adding that there was no evidence presented against the three people named by Khan.
“I will quit politics forever if it comes to that,” he told reporters in the northeastern city of Lahore.
Sharif said the former prime minister is damaging the country with “false and cheap conspiracies”. He urged the Supreme Court to form a full-court commission to investigate the “grave” allegations.
“I request the honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial to form a full-court commission as there should be an immediate decision on this issue after a thorough investigation,” he said.
On Friday, Pakistan’s powerful military, which has ruled the country for more than half of its 75 years of independence, responded by calling Khan’s statements “irresponsible and unacceptable”.
Khan maintains his removal from office in a vote of no-confidence in April was part of a “foreign conspiracy” plotted in the United States with the help of the Pakistani opposition parties – a charge repeatedly denied by the government, the powerful military, as well as Washington.
Khan has held dozens of rallies across the country since April demanding snap elections. He was leading a march to the capital, Islamabad, to press his demands when a gunman opened fire in eastern Punjab’s Wazirabad district.
In the past, he has also accused military officials of custodial torture and harassment of his party workers, which include a senator and a top aide.
The Pakistan government on Saturday issued an order asking the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to reverse its decision to ban live speeches of Khan on TV channels.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the government believed in free speech and democratic norms, and would not stand in the way of Khan’s speeches reaching the public.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Khan’s supporters continued to protest in all major cities of Pakistan, demanding justice and calling for the resignation of the three people blamed for the assassination attempt.
His party workers and supporters said they did not require Khan to bring out any evidence against his claims as they believed he was speaking the truth.