Interior minister says PTI chief ‘personally orchestrated attacks’
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Tuesday said that former premier and PTI Chairman Imran Khan would face trial in a military court for his “role” in the May 9 arson attacks.
Speaking to a private news channel, Sanaullah accused Imran of “personally planning attacks” on military establishments, claiming that there was ample evidence to substantiate these accusations.
“It is all documented. The proof is in his (Imran’s) tweets and messages,” he said.
Violent protests broke out across the country after the PTI chief was taken into custody by paramilitary Rangers on the orders of the National Accountability Bureau from the Islamabad High Court premises in the National Crime Agency £190 million scandal.
Rioters vandalised civilian infrastructure and military installations and even attacked the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, and Lahore corps commander’s residence, also known as Jinnah House.
During the interview, when asked if the PTI chairman would be tried in a military court, the interior minister replied: “Absolutely, why shouldn’t he [be tried in a military court]? [By looking at] the programme he made to target military installations and how he had it executed, this is absolutely a case for the military courts.”
Sanaullah claimed that the former premier personally orchestrated the attacks. “The PTI activists chanted the slogan ‘Imran is our red line’, and the entire plot was prepared on Imran Khan’s initiative and instigation. He carried it all out. He is the architect of this chaos.”
When asked how the former premier was able to communicate with his party stalwarts from prison, the interior minister said: “All this [planning] was decided before he went [to jail] that who will do what and where. And when he is arrested, what would be the strategy and duties. All of this was [already] decided.”
He said no leniency would be shown to those who attacked the military installations, regardless of their status with the PTI. However, he maintained that those PTI members who had left the party and condemned the attacks might be given some respite.
The minister alleged that Imran’s wife, Bushra Bibi, was also one of the motivators.
He said the PTI women leaders who were incarcerated for their alleged involvement in the May 9 violence were not maltreated.
Deliberating on the possibility of Imran’s arrest prior to elections in the National Crime Agency £190 million scandal and May 9 attacks, Sanaullah said, “If convicted after arrest, the PTI chief can face disqualification.”
To a question, the minister said the law enforcement agencies would have been successful if the state had employed full force on May 9 to prevent the attacks.
However, he clarified that the government did not seek the option due to the risk of bloodshed and subsequent potential political mileage the PTI chief could have gained.
Sanaullah’s remarks came a day after Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that no decision had yet been made on the former premier’s trial under the Army Act.
However, Asif said, he could not “rule out” such a possibility.
“I don’t rule out the possibility that he was the planner and knew everything [about May 9].”
On Sanaullah’s remarks, PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub noted that the interior minister’s “erratic actions and statements” had given rise to “serious questions on his cognitive abilities to carry on as a minister”.
“From holding midnight dubious news conferences to making statements about trying PTI Chairman Imran Khan in a military court, it just proves that he has finally become unhinged and is unfit to perform duties as a minister,” he tweeted.