Imran Khan asks Pakistan’s president to investigate military

In letter to the president, ex-PM questions how military officials can hold press briefing targeting a political leader.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks during a news conference in Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital, where he underwent treatment for a gunshot wound in Lahore, Pakistan [File: KM Chaudhry/AP Photo]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked President Arif Alvi to initiate an inquiry into a news conference held by Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, which he has accused of orchestrating the attack on him.

In a letter to the president, Khan referred to the event held last month by Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum, chief of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).

“How can two military bureaucrats do a highly political press conference targeting the leader of the largest federal political party,” wrote Khan, the head of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

At the unprecedented news conference on October 27, Anjum was accompanied by Lieutenant General Babar Iftikhar, the chief of the military’s media wing, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

Khan is recovering at home in Lahore after he was discharged from hospital on Sunday. Last week, he was wounded in the leg in an apparent assassination attempt during a protest rally in Wazirabad in the eastern province of Punjab.

“I am requesting you to act now to stop the abuse of power and violations of our laws and constitutions,” he wrote, also asking that the president define ISPR’s role.

Khan has provided no evidence to back his accusations.

There has been no response so far to the letter from either the president, who is the supreme commander of the armed forces, or the military.

The two military officials talked to the media about the killing of Pakistani journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya and responded to allegations made by Khan against the military establishment.

The PTI chief has claimed that senior intelligence official Major General Faisal Naseer, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah were involved in what he called the plot to kill him, and demanded they be sacked.

He repeated the allegations in his letter to the president.

Khan has previously accused military officials of torturing and harassing PTI officials, including a senator and his chief of staff.

On Friday, the military dismissed his allegations as “baseless and irresponsible”, adding that accusations against senior army officers are “unacceptable and uncalled for”.

Sharif called on the country’s top court to form a commission to investigate the attack.

“I don’t have the right to remain in office if there is any shred of evidence found regarding my involvement in this case,” the premier said on Saturday.

Khan, 70, was removed through a parliamentary vote of no confidence in April.

He alleged that a US-led foreign conspiracy colluded with Pakistan’s military establishment and his political rivals to remove him. Again, he did not provide any evidence. US and Pakistani authorities have denied these charges.

He has been conducting rallies across the country since his removal. PTI secured electoral victories in by-elections held in July and October.

The cricketer-turned-politician launched a long march on October 28 to Islamabad with the goal of holding early general elections. The term of Pakistan’s current National Assembly ends in October 2023.

In a video broadcast from the hospital on social media on Sunday, Khan announced his party will resume the long march on Tuesday from Wazirabad. He said he would join the march in Rawalpindi in the coming days.

Senior PTI leader Musarrat Jamshed Cheema told Al Jazeera that the march will be led by the party’s top leadership and will follow the original route, while Khan will make daily speeches.

“The plan is to have Imran Khan speak to the public every day at 4:30pm and we will try to wrap up the rally every day before [the] sun sets,” she said.

Cheema said the party plans to conclude the rally in Islamabad in “10 to 12 days”.

“But it all depends on his wellbeing and his recovery. Of course, we want him to be there as soon as it is possible,” she said.

Source: Al Jazeera