Thursday, Dec 07, 2023

Pakistan: Imran Khan's Party Approaches Supreme Court For FIR Against PM Sharif, Top Army General

Pakistan: Imran Khan's Party Approaches Supreme Court For FIR Against PM Sharif, Top Army General

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused PM Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and Major General Faisal Naseer for being behind the plot to assassinate him.

Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan
Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan AP

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Monday approached the Supreme Court over the registration of FIR against PM Shehbaz Sharif and a top Army general. 

Khan was shot during a rally on November 3 in Pakistan's Punjab province. Following the shooting, Khan accused Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and Major General Faisal Naseer for being behind the plot to assassinate him. 

Besides Khan, seven others were also injured in the shooting and one person was killed. 

For several days, Khan's wing of PTI and the Punjab government, also run by PTI, were in a deadlock over the registration of the FIR against Sharif, Sanaullah, and Faisal, as the provincial government was reluctant to name the three in the FIR. 

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Following the Supreme Court's intervention last week, Punjab Police finally registered the FIR but it did not name Sharif and others named by Khan. Instead, only the suspected shooter was named as the prime accused in the case. 

Khan and PTI remain committed to bring the names of Sharif and others into the FIR. PTI leader and former federal minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said petitions were submitted in Supreme Court registries in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta, according to the Dawn newspaper.  

Qureshi said the main point of submitting these pleas were to probe the assassination attempt on Khan and bring the facts to light, the report said. He lamented the FIR was not registered according to Khan's wishes.  

Imran Khan puts Punjab government in a fix

In the latest display of trust-deficit between Khan and his PTI's Punjab government, Khan's son Sulaiman Isa Khan and Kasim Khan, who arrived in Lahore to meet their father, were provided commandos from the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial police as Khan's PTI wing does not trust the Punjab police. 

Earlier, the Dawn reported that Punjab Chief Minister Chaudhry Pervez Elahi was caught between ‘the devil and the deep blue sea’ as Khan, who essentially calls the shots for the ruling coalition in Punjab, insists on naming Sharif and others, whereas the government is reluctant to do so. 

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Earlier, a Punjab government's meeting discussed the serious issues pertaining to all the legal aspects of the registration of a case and the Dawn cited an official as saying that the meeting also discussed that a further delay in the registration of a case could spoil all efforts to secure evidence and punish the suspects involved in the armed attack on Khan's container truck in Wazirabad. Eventually, the FIR was registered. 

Sharing the political dimensions of the issue, the source told Dawn CM Elahi was against the ‘logic’ of naming Faisal in the case.

At the Cabinet meeting, the police chief told other participants that the police had not received any application to register the FIR of an assassination attempt on Khan, according to a Dawn report last week.

Pakistan Army rubbishes allegations

Following Khan's accusations against Pakistan Army's Major General Faisal Sharif, the Army rejected the allegations as "baseless and irresponsible". 

The Army 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.

"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."

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The Imran Khan-Army tussle

Khan's accusations against the top Army general came as the latest salvo in his long-running tussle with the Army. Khan has been taking on the all-powerful Pakistan Army for some time in a way that fails to find precedent in Pakistan's history. 

Closely before the attempt on Khan's life, Pakistan military and spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) went all out against Khan and said that he had asked Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to do "illegal and unconstitutional" acts.

ISI chief Lieutenant General Nadeem Ahmed Anjum further said that Bajwa was given a "lucrative offer" in March by Khan's government amidst the political turmoil at the time. 

Khan was ousted as prime minister in April in a no-confidence vote. Since before his ouster, Khan has been alleging a foreign conspiracy against him. Since his ouster, he has labelled the Sharif-led government as "foreign" and "imported" and has targeted state organs of conspiring against him. Khan has allged that the United States ousted him for the pursuit of an independent foreign policy. He cited a letter written to Foreign Office by a Pakistani diplomatic mission abroad, which allegedly mentioned that the host country had said relations with Pakistan would suffer if Khan remained prime minister.

"(Khan's criticism) is because the military and its chief refused to do illegal or unconstitutional things," ISI's Anjum said, as per Reuters, and added that the military had made a policy decision to stay out of politics, and hence turned down Khan's persistent requests.

"It [the lucrative offer] was made in front of me. He [Bajwa] rejected it because he wanted the institution to move forward from a controversial role to a constitutional role," said Anjum.

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Outlook earlier reported that observers wonder whether Pakistani military has for real withdrawn from politics or whether their clout is down. 

Outlook's Seema Guha noted, "These questions are being asked primarily because Imran Khan is taking on General Qamar Javed Bajwa and his top aides publicly. He is blaming them for siding with his rivals...But going by what is happening on the ground, something is afoot. But are observers making too much of it and the current situation is the usual jockeying for power among powerful generals all eyeing the top post?"

Former Indian High Commissioner to Islamabad TCA Raghavan told Outlook, "There are some in Pakistan who have been positing that the political feuding in Pakistan is only the expression of divisions within the Army and that one section supports Imran Khan for he would not have gone to the lengths he did without some support of this kind. There is no evidence for this theory and possibly will not be for some time but it does have a certain currency.

"In my view, there may be some sympathy for Imran Khan in the military — not in any conspiratorial sense but in the same way as there is in the rest of the country. But it is likely that his political agenda is of his own making. The military's control over politicians is never absolute and it is true that it has been reducing progressively over the years."