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Pakistan: Supreme Court Directs Police To File FIR For Imran Khan's Assassination Attempt

Former Prime Minister was shot last week. He has alleged that Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif, Interior Minister Sanaullah Khan, And Pakistani Army's Major General Faisal Sharif conspired to assassinate him

Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan
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Pakistan Supreme Court on Monday ordered Punjab's provincial government to file an FIR over the shooting of Imran Khan within 24 hours.

Khan was shot on Thursday during a protest march in Punjab province, but an FIR has not been registered so far as the deadlock remains over the inclusion of the name of a top Pakistani Army general in the FIR. 

Khan has alleged that three people conspired to assassinate him — Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Sanaullah Khan, and Major General Faisal Sharif. He alleged the plan was to kill him in a manner similar to the killing of former Punjab Governor Salman Taseer in 2011.

Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) party has welcomed the SC order as the "first step towards justice". 

The Supreme Court's order came as the provincial government is refusing to file the case unless Khan removes Faisal's name from the complaint.

What the Supreme Court said?

The Supreme Court on Monday directed Punjab police chief Faisal Shahkar to register an FIR within 24 hours, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said that the apex court would take suo motu notice if the FIR was not registered, the report added.

Bandial also asked Shahkar, who joined the hearing from the SC's Lahore registry via video link, why the FIR was not registered.

"Tell us when the FIR will be registered," asked Bandial, adding that there should be a concrete reason for not registering the FIR.

"Working according to the law, the court is with you," said Bandial, directing Shahkar to get officials to probe into the matter.

Bandial assured Shahkar that nobody would interfere in his work till the time he was posted at the IG.

"IG sahib, you do your job. If someone interferes, the court would interfere in their work," said Bandial.

Punjab police chief declared he'd resign

Shahkar has decided to resign from the Punjab government and has refused to work with the current political setup in the province led by Chief Minister Parvez Elahi.

Shahkar informed the SC that "we have spoken to the Punjab Chief Minister regarding the registration of the FIR and he has expressed some reservations". He further said an FIR should also be registered on the complaint of the heirs of the man who was killed in the incident.

The attack that failed to kill Khan injured seven others, including an MP, and killed one person. 

Khan's allegations baseless, irresponsible: Army

Following Khan's claims that a top Army general conspired with the civilian government to get him killed, the Pakistani Army said the claims were "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."

Imran Khan's tussle with Sharifs, Army

Khan has been targeting the Shehbaz Sharif-led government for months now, claiming it's "imported" and "foreign". 

Khan was ousted as prime minister in April after he failed a no-confidence vote. Since before his ouster, he has been alleging a foreign conspiracy against him. He has alleged that a foreign power, which he later named as the United States, was in league with the country's Opposition at the time to unseat him. He cited a letter written to Foreign Office by a Pakistani diplomatic mission abroad which mentioned that the host country had said relations with Pakistan would suffer if Khan remained prime minister. 

The Army and other state organs have also been attacked by supporters of Khan and by himself as well. 

The all-powerful Pakistani military has rubbished Khan's campaigns. In an unprecedented press conference last month, the military and the 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's criticism) is because the military and its chief refused to do illegal or unconstitutional things," 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.

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"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.

Outlook earlier reported that Khan is taking on the Pakistani military publicly and 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?"

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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."

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(With PTI inputs)

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