Imran Khan, who has survived an assassination attempt, has urged Pakistan President Arif Alvi to act against the “abuse of power” at the hands of “rogue elements” in the government and also define “clear operational lines” of the Army’s media wing.
In a letter to the president on Sunday, the former prime minister wrote that since the removal of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government, the country has been “confronted with an ever-increasing scale of false allegations, harassment, arrests, and custodial torture”.
Khan, 70, suffered bullet injuries in the right leg on Thursday when two gunmen fired a volley of bullets at him and others mounting on a container-mounted truck in the Wazirabad area of Punjab province, where he was leading a protest march against the Shehbaz Sharif government.
He has alleged that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has “repeatedly issued death threats” to him and that he was informed of an assassination plot “hatched by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah” and a senior military official, the Express Tribune newspaper reported.
“The plot was operationalised earlier this week during our long march, but Allah saved me and the assassination attempt failed,” he said.
Khan requested that as the head of the State of Pakistan and “also as the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces” of the Constitution, President Alvi take note of the “following serious wrongdoings that undermine Pakistan’s national security”.
In his letter, Khan raised three separate points regarding the Prime Minister Office leak, the cypher controversy and the role of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the powerful army.
He claimed that the Official Secrets Act was breached when a “confidential conversation between myself as prime minister, the Chief of Army Staff and the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), on a supposedly secure line, was ‘leaked’ to the media”.
“This raises a very serious question as to who or what organisation was involved in doing a clearly illegal wiretap of the PM’s secure phone line? This is a breach of national security at the highest level,” he said.
A series of separate audio recordings surfaced in September, allegedly featuring the leadership of the PTI and the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) holding informal conversations never meant to be heard by the public.
Khan also mentioned about the cypher controversy, which the former premier has long touted as evidence to overturn his government through a foreign conspiracy.
He noted that the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting held during his tenure had “decided this was an unacceptable intrusion into our internal matters” which was also later reaffirmed during the meeting held under the Shehbaz government.
However, a joint press conference of the spy agency ISI chief and ISPR chief had the “former contradicting the decision made by the NSC under two governments and stating that the message of the US government conveyed by our envoy in Washington DC in the cypher was not an unacceptable intrusion into our internal affairs but simply a case of ‘misconduct’.” “The question that needs to be examined is how two military bureaucrats can publicly contradict a decision of the NSC? This also raises the serious issue of these military bureaucrats deliberately trying to create a false narrative.” Khan also posed two further questions: how the head of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency could hold a public press conference and how two military bureaucrats could hold a “highly political press conference”.
On October 27, Director General of the ISI, Nadeem Ahmed Anjum, held an unprecedented press conference here along with ISPR DG Lt Gen Babar Iftikhar and talked about journalist Arshad Sharif’s killing in Kenya and former premier Khan’s confrontational narrative against the military.
“The parameters of a military information organisation such as the ISPR also need to be clearly defined and limited to information relating to defence and military issues. As supreme commander of the armed forces, I call on you to initiate the drawing up of these clear operational lines for the ISPR,” he said.
He further asked Alvi, who belonged to Khan’s party before assuming the presidency, to lead an inquiry to identify the guilty “and hold them accountable”.
The deposed premier reiterated that the country was observing a “massive abuse of citizens at the hands of rogue elements within state organisations, including custodial torture and abductions”, all of which he claimed was “carried out with impunity”.
“You hold the highest Office of State and I am requesting you to act now to stop the abuse of power and violations of our laws and of the Constitution, which ensures the fundamental rights of every citizen,” he said.
Khan concluded his letter by telling Alvi to protect the country’s democracy and the Constitution.
“No person or state institution can be above the law of the land. We have been seeing a massive abuse of citizens at the hands of rogue elements within state organisations, including custodial torture and abductions all carried out with impunity.
Alvi, 73, is one of the founding members of PTI. He served as the party’s secretary general from 2006 to 2013.
On Saturday President Alvi and first lady Begum Samina Arif Alvi visited the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre in Lahore to inquire about the health of Khan and thereafter stayed with him for almost three hours.
The president and the first lady expressed their best wishes and prayed for his (Khan’s) speedy recovery.
During the meeting, Alvi, and Khan also exchanged views of the dire political and economic situation of the country.