The Pakistan Army has rejected as “baseless and irresponsible” the allegations made by former premier Imran Khan that one of its senior officers was among the people involved in the conspiracy to kill him and demanded the government to conduct a probe and take legal action against those maligning the state institution.
The Army’s overnight statement came in response to an address by Khan from the hospital in which he alleged that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal Naseer were part of a sinister plot to assassinate him in the same way former Punjab governor Salman Taseer was killed in 2011 by a religious extremist.
Khan, 70, suffered a bullet injury in the right leg 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.
“Four people plotted to kill me. I made a video and named those people and have stashed it abroad,” Khan, the chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) said, adding that it would be released in case something untoward happens to him.
In its response, the Army in a statement said: “The baseless and irresponsible allegations by chairman PTI against the institution and particularly a senior army officer are absolutely unacceptable and uncalled for.” “The baseless allegations hurled at the institution/officials today are highly regrettable and strongly condemned,” the statement read.
“No one will be allowed to defame the institution or its soldiers with impunity. Keeping this in view, the government of Pakistan has been requested to investigate the matter and initiate legal action against those responsible for defamation and false accusations against the institution and its officials without any evidence whatsoever,” it said.
According to the statement, the Pakistan Army prides itself for being an extremely professional and well-disciplined organisation with a robust and highly effective internal accountability system, which is applicable across the board for unlawful acts against anything committed by uniformed personnel.
If the honour, safety and prestige of its rank and file are being tarnished by vested interests through frivolous allegations, “the institution will jealously safeguard its officers and soldiers no matter what”, it said.
The powerful Army, which has ruled the coup-prone country for more than half of its 75-plus years of existence, has hitherto wielded considerable power in the matters of security and foreign policy.
Earlier, Khan repeated the names of three persons for their alleged involvement in the attack. He urged his followers to continue protests across the country until the three of them resigned.
Khan also announced that he would relaunch the protest march against the government soon after getting on his feet.
Meanwhile, he also claimed that an FIR was not being registered as some people were afraid of (some names).
The Dawn newspaper reported that the deadlock over the registration of the FIR continued following the reported refusal by the PTI chief to withdraw the name of a senior Army officer from the complaint, which also carries the names of the prime minister and the interior minister.