‘Are military officers above the law?’: Imran hits back at PM Shehbaz over criticism – Pakistan

PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Monday hit back at Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for accusing him of “maligning” the Pakistan Army, asking if military officers were above the law.

A day earlier, PM Shehbaz had criticised the former premier and said: “Imran Niazi’s act of routinely maligning and threatening the Pakistan Army and Intelligence Agency for the sake of petty political gains is highly condemnable.”

He had gone on to say that Imran’s levelling of allegations against a senior intelligence officer without any proof could neither be allowed nor tolerated.

After an assassination attempt on the PTI chief in Wazirabad last year, Imran had held PM Shehbaz, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and a senior intelligence official responsible for the bid to assassinate him and demanded their resignations.

Since then, several PTI leaders, including the chairman, have reiterated that the attack was part of a “well-coordinated” plan executed by at least three shooters to eliminate Imran.

A joint investigation team, formed by the Punjab government, had reportedly concurred with Imran’s claims that the attack was carried out from three different shooting sites. The team, which has been reconstituted twice, was headed by Lahore CCPO Ghulam Mehmood Dogar.

But earlier in January, the government formed a new team to probe the attack, a move that was rejected by the PTI.

Most recently, in a PTI rally on Saturday, Imran had once again reiterated his claims and named those he believed were behind the Wazirabad attack, after which PM Shehbaz called him out.

In a series of tweets today, Imran hit back at the prime minister, asking if as a citizen of Pakistan he did not have the right to nominate those he felt were responsible for the assassination attacks on him. “Why was I denied my legal and constitutional right to register an FIR?

“Does SS [Shehbaz Sharif’s] tweet mean military officers are above the law or that they cannot commit a crime? If we allege one of them has committed a crime, how is the institution being maligned?” he questioned.

“Who was so powerful to sabotage the Wazirabad JIT (joint investigation team) while the PTI government was still in power in Punjab?”

The PTI chief also mentioned the clashes at the Islamabad Judicial Complex on March 18, where he had appeared before the court for a hearing of the Toshakhana case. During the day-long fiasco, the federal capital had turned into a battleground as the police and PTI supporters came face to face.

Subsequently, Imran had alleged that assassins had been placed outside the judicial complex with plans to kill him.

Reiterating the same in his tweets today, he said: “Can Shehbaz Sharif answer why the ISI took over ICT Judicial Complex evening before my appearance there on March 18? Why were ISI personnel in CTD and lawyers camouflaged? What was the motive and what business did ISI have in the Complex?”

He then said that when the PM did find the answers to these questions, they would all point to “one powerful man and his accomplices all being above the law”.

“It is time for us to officially declare that in Pakistan there is only the law of the jungle where might is right,” Imran added.

PTI announces rallies in Islamabad on May 14 to show solidarity with SC

Meanwhile, the PTI announced on Monday that it will be holding rallies in 101 union councils of Islamabad on May 14 — the date given by the Supreme Court for elections in Punjab — to show solidarity with the apex court.

In April, the apex court had fixed May 14 as the date for polls to the Punjab Assembly. However, the government had rejected the apex court’s orders.

After repeated back and forth last week, the SC on April 20 afforded a temporary respite to the country’s main political parties, giving them time till April 26 to develop a consensus on the date for elections to the provincial and national assemblies, so they could be held simultaneously across the country. Negotiations subsequently followed between the government and the PTI but remained inconclusive. The PTI and the government have since provided their reports about the negotiations to the Supreme Court, and an “appropriate” judgement is expected in the case.

Over the weekend, Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Umar Ata Bandial, while addressing at a seminar, said: “When it comes to constitutional enforcement we must not blink our eyes. If it says 90 days for holding elections, it is our duty to say that and not our choice, instead of finding a reason why we should avoid saying that.”

In a letter written to the deputy commissioner of Islamabad today — a copy of which is available with Dawn.com — the PTI sought permission to hold a “peaceful assembly” in the capital on May 14.

The letter, written by PTI Islamabad President Ali Nawaz Awan, stated that the party had previously planned, managed, and staged more than 150 protests, rallies, and peaceful assemblies at various locations of the capital city in the past year and “not once a single pot was broken”.

It cited the SC and Islamabad High Court’s directions that the “civil administration shall administer in such a manner that no fundamental rights of any citizen shall infringe as a result of the acts of their good offices”.

The letter highlighted that Pakistan’s Constitution provided every citizen with fundamental rights including freedom of movement, assembly, speech, and association.

“It is a constitutional fundamental right of every citizen to assemble peacefully,” it went on to say.

“In view of the above the undersigned be given permission to exercise the constitutional fundamental rights of the applicant to hold a peaceful assembly for the Supremacy of the Constitution,” the letter added.

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