Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday announced that his party’s long march—suspended since an assassination attempt last week left him and several others injured and caused the death of one supporter—will resume from tomorrow (Tuesday) from the same location where the shooting occurred.
In a televised address from the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital—where he was discharged from later on Sunday—Khan said the march would resume under the leadership of PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi. He said that while he was recovering from his injuries at his home in Lahore’s Zaman Park, he would continue to address its participants via video-link. He said he expected the long march to reach Rawalpindi in 10-14 days after which he would join it and lead it in its final leg to Islamabad.
During his address, which lasted a little under 30 minutes, the ousted prime minister criticized the ongoing delay in police registering a case over the shooting. Reiterating that a case should be registered against the prime minister, interior minister, and a senior Army official for “hatching a conspiracy to kill him,” he alleged that Punjab police were proving reluctant over naming the military official—Maj. Gen. Faisal Naseer of the ISI—but were ready to nominate P.M. Sharif and minister Sanaullah in the case.
“The concerned policemen requested that they be transferred from the post … some other officers may register the FIR nominating suspects mentioned by me,” he claimed, as he questioned the credibility of the justice system if even a former premier could not get a case registered. “There are people who consider themselves above the law, which unfortunately dismantles the whole edifice of the judicial system in the country,” he said.
Supporting Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s suggestion for a full court of the Supreme Court to probe the shooting, he questioned how it could act independently so long as the premier remained in office. “How can we have an impartial and fair investigation? It can’t happen. That’s why I asked them to resign so the investigation can be fair,” he said, while acknowledging that he “could be wrong” but only an investigation could prove this conclusively. He said the same commission should also probe the killing of journalist Arshad Sharif.
Khan also slammed the leaking to media of the shooting suspect’s “confession,” saying it had sought to portray a religious element behind the attack. Claiming that the police had claimed the video was hacked from their devices, he accused the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) “in connivance of Army officers” with distributing a video that allegedly showed him “insulting religion.”
Referring to a statement by the military’s media wing that had accused Khan of maligning the armed forces, the PTI chief claimed there was “no logic” to equating criticism of a single officer to defamation of the entire institution. If all Army officers are considered infallible, he said, then why was there any need for court-martials. Similarly, he said, the debunked diplomatic cipher that the PTI claims proves a foreign regime change conspiracy should be investigated and urged the Chief Justice of Pakistan to take notice of it.
In his pleas to the CJP, Khan reiterated his call for an investigation into the allegations of PTI Senator Azam Swati. Claiming some “agencies were working to cover up” the incident, Khan rebutted arguments from various journalists and the Federal Investigation Agency that the video referred to by Swati was “fake.” He said he had directed all PTI senators and legal groups to join Swati in protesting for justice outside the Supreme Court.