Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Monday reiterated his allegations of journalists being directed by a “propaganda cell” to twist his words and use them against him.
Addressing the PTI’s ongoing long march on Islamabad via video-link, he claimed the propaganda cell was “feeding journalists” to malign him. “They [journalists] are told to pick and choose things from my interview and then turn those against me,” he alleged, claiming the aim was to misconstrue his words and damage his narrative. He alleged that the propaganda had hit a level where two journalists had clarified that their work was being “presented in an incorrect way.”
Referring to an interview with the Financial Times—the latest that the PTI has alleged was being misrepresented by Pakistani media—Khan said he desired Pakistan to have friendly relations with all states, but would not accept slavery. “We can even be friends with India if the Kashmir issue is solved. But we won’t be slaves of anyone,” he said, emphasizing that he wanted an independent foreign policy for Pakistan. “The foreign policy we have right now does not protect the people of Pakistan, it instead serves the interest of other countries,” he alleged, reiterating that neither he, nor the PTI, wanted enmity with any foreign state.
During his address, Khan also reiterated his criticism over police in Punjab—where the PTI is in a coalition government with the PMLQ—not registering a first information report (FIR) of the attack on his container in Wazirabad in line with his demands. The FIR registered names the captured shooter, but does not include the names of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif; Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah; or Army officer Maj. Gen. Faisal Naseer, who Khan has accused, without evidence, of “orchestrating” the attack.
Noting that the PTI had now approached the Supreme Court for relief, he added: “I am hopeful that our honorable chief justice will look into this.” He stressed that any country’s success is linked to rule of law.
“People ask me what my economic agenda is: If you want to bring prosperity in the country, you have to create justice. Only rule of law can ensure prosperity,” he claimed, noting that Pakistan was 129 on the rule of law index. “How can we prosper then?” he questioned, lamenting that if a former prime minister could not register a FIR per his wishes, what recourse did the general public have.
The PTI chief said he had three demands of the apex court: registration of a FIR per his wishes; a probe into the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif in Kenya; and an investigation into the alleged torture of Senator Azam Swati while in police custody.
Army chief appointment
Per routine, the ousted prime minister continued his broadsides on the Sharif family, questioning how Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif could consult a convict—Nawaz Sharif—on the appointment of the next Army chief. “This is a violation of the Official Secrets Act,” he claimed, adding that he was consulting his lawyers on the matter. “How can he [P.M. Sharif] consult with an absconder and a convict regarding such an important decision,” he said, questioning whether London-based Nawaz Sharif should be allowed to take decisions about Pakistan’s future.
“Does he have any stake in Pakistan? His children are sitting abroad … will this man decide about holding elections?” he said, reiterating his accusations of the ruling coalition, especially the PMLN, not acting in the country’s interest.
Khan’s long march on the federal capital resumed last week after a pause of a week due to the shooting at Wazirabad in which several PTI leaders, including Khan, were injured and one party worker was killed. The meandering march, per the PTI, would converge on Rawalpindi with convoys from Sindh and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, where Khan would personally lead it into Islamabad. It remains unclear when the march would reach its destination, but the PTI expects it to be at some point after Nov. 18.