Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Friday warned of further unrest if he is arrested once more, adding that he did not want the chaos of the past three days repeated.
Speaking with his legal team at the Islamabad High Court (IHC) during a Friday prayer break, he said he had informed senior lawyer Hamid Khan that a Punjab Police team was waiting outside the court to arrest him. “I am warning you about the whole situation,” he said, adding that the “same reaction” would be witnessed nationwide if he were arrested once again.
“I don’t want the same situation to happen again,” he claimed, and urged his legal team to “prepare” for the eventuality of his arrest.
Following Khan’s arrest from the premises of the IHC earlier this week, PTI supporters rioted nationwide, ransacking and setting on fire public property, including the Lahore Corps Commander’s house; various police vehicles; security checkposts; military installations; the Radio Pakistan building and an animal market in Peshawar; and various ambulances. The clashes between PTI supporters and security forces resulted in at least 7 deaths and over 50 others injured, with the military’s media wing issuing a statement warning to “strict action” against anyone who targeted state property during demonstrations.
Also on Friday, during an informal chat with journalists at the IHC, Khan reiterated denials of any responsibility for the chaos that was witnessed this week. “How can I be responsible when I was in jail? I said before the Supreme Court that what happened is not right; this country is mine, these people are mine,” he said.
To another question, he said he was “beaten up” at the IHC while being arrested—though a subsequent medical examination found no evidence of this—while acknowledging that the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) had treated him “well” during his custody. He also rubbished a question over whether he was considering leaving the country for his safety, maintaining that “this is my country, my Army and my people. Under no circumstances will I leave Pakistan.”
Lamenting that he had been arrested as if he were a terrorist, he alleged that the Judicial Complex had been under the control of the Inter-Services Intelligence spy agency. To another question, he held the chief of Army staff responsible for “whatever has happened” to him. “The Army Chief is responsible for what happened to me. He is afraid that if I come to power, I will de-notify him,” he alleged. “The way I was arrested could not have happened without the Army chief’s permission,” he added.