Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Sunday claimed that Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan had devolved political enmity to a degree where “either we will maintain our existence or he will.”
In an interview with a private TV channel, he lamented that peace could not be guaranteed in Pakistan until and unless the people oust Khan from politics through voting. He further maintained that if his party—the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz)—believed it was being pushed against a wall and was facing “elimination” from politics, then it would not hesitate to protect itself without worrying about the merits or demerits of whether its actions were perceived as principled or unprincipled.
“Either he [Khan] will be eliminated from the political arena or we will,” he emphasized. “Only Imran is to be blamed for bringing us to this stage,” he said, adding that the PTI chief had encouraged an anarchy-like situation in the country. He lamented that the government had considered Khan a political rival, but he had treated them like an enemy. Khan, he stressed, “blamed me, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and an Army officer for plotting to kill him.” This, he alleged, was a bid to sow discord between supporters of the rival parties, warning that this could spiral into bloodshed.
To a question on the PMLN’s concerns with Khan, Sanaullah claimed that the ousted prime minister had sought to recruit “like-minded” retired judges of the subordinate judiciary as presiding officers of special courts and use them to hand down “capital punishment or life term to political rivals.” He claimed that the rift between Khan and former Army chief Gen. (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa was also a result of the latter differing with the PTI chief’s aims of “eliminating the then opposition” by hook or by crook.
To another question, the interior minister claimed Khan had been trying to set the country ablaze since his ouster as prime minister, adding that the coalition government had exercised restraint to prevent the situation from worsening.
PTI files case
On Monday, the PTI chief filed a petition against Sanaullah at the Islamabad High Court (IHC), claiming that the interior minister had leveled “direct threats” against him and his party. Seeking the court to intervene, Khan requested the court to block his arrest in all pending cases and prevent the respondents from acting on their “plans”.
Apart from Sanaullah, the petition has made the federal government, the Islamabad IGP and the SSP operations respondents to the case.
Earlier, PTI Secretary General Asad Umar had urged courts to take notice of Sanaullah’s remarks, claiming the party had no aims of “threatening his [Sanaullah’s] existence.”