Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan on Tuesday warned he will replace any of his party’s ticket-holders who do not vigorously undertake election campaigns with “suitable” candidates.
In an informal chat with journalists at Adiala Jail on the sidelines of the cipher case, he reiterated his call for all PTI candidates to take out “massive rallies” and organize public gatherings to display the party’s strength and support. Anyone who does not stage rallies on Sunday, he warned, would be replaced. He also stressed that all participants of the rallies should remain peaceful and not take the law into their hands.
Maintaining the PTI was being denied its fundamental right of campaigning, he alleged its aspirants’ “camp offices were also being uprooted.” However, he stressed, the PTI would still participate in polls, adding the Supreme Court would ensure they were not delayed any further.
Cipher case proceedings
During Tuesday’s hearing, six prosecution witnesses—of 25 total—recorded their statements, with cross-examination to start from today (Wednesday). The key witness of the day was former ambassador to the U.S. Asad Majeed, who had met U.S. official Donald Lu and penned the cipher.
In his testimony, Majeed recalled his meeting with U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Lu, adding it was pre-planned and both sides were recording minutes of the meeting for sharing with their respective governments. He said he had shared his views in a cipher conveyed to the foreign secretary, who had subsequently sent it to the foreign minister, prime minister, and others.
A meeting of the National Security Committee (NSC) that he attended, he said, had then decided to send a demarche to the U.S. over the cipher. Referring to the controversy raised by Khan, he said it had proven a “setback” in Pak-U.S. relations. At one point, Khan interrupted Majeed’s testimony to note the government’s decision to issue a demarche suggested “conspiracy” though the ex-envoy maintained he had not conveyed anything of the sort.
In his media interaction, the PTI founder alleged the cipher case was aimed at “saving” Lu and former Army chief Gen. (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa. “We ordered an investigation into the cipher conspiracy but the committee could not undertake the assignment because of certain threats,” he claimed.
Also on Tuesday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) restored Khan’s petitions seeking pre-arrest bail in seven cases pertaining to the May 9 riots. Earlier, an anti-terrorism court had dismissed the bails over Khan’s non-appearance during proceedings while he is incarcerated. The court directed the trial court to mark the attendance of the petitioner via video link from jail and decide his bail petitions on merits.