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Interviews with CNN, TRT: To questions about evidence, Imran Khan narrates background

To specific questions by international news TV channels, Imran Khan could not give evidence against the persons accused by him to have masterminded attack on him

By Rafique Mangat
November 09, 2022
PTI chairman Imran Khan speaking to the foreign media on November 8, 2022. Screengrab of a Twitter video.
PTI chairman Imran Khan speaking to the foreign media on November 8, 2022. Screengrab of a Twitter video. 

LAHORE: To specific questions by international news TV channels, former prime minister and PTI Chairman Imran Khan could not give evidence against the persons accused by him to have masterminded attack on him.

In an interview with CNN, the anchor asked, “You have accused Pakistan’s current prime minister, the interior minister, and a senior intelligence official for the attack on your life. These are serious allegations. What’s your evidence?

Responding, Imran Khan narrated his oft-repeated account of his ouster from power, alleged plot against his party and attempts to disqualify him, his mantra against the successive rule of two-parties (PPP, PMLN), and how his party got massive public support.

He said, “About two months ago, this plot was conceived. I went on in public. …. on the 24th of September … announced the plot. Let me give you the background. How do I know that what I am saying and what evidence I have? It started out when I was deposed from government. From then onwards, what was expected was that our party would just fall apart. What has in fact happened is that those two families being again imposed on us, who have been ruling for 30 years, there was a big public backlash. Rather than my party going down, it has brought the party such public support. We won 75 per cent of the elections since we were out of power. All efforts were made to make it out of the race to disqualify me.”

When the anchor repeated her question, saying, “That background we know. With respect, I asked you for the evidence behind the allegations, Imran responded, “And with respect, if people don’t know the background, how would they know why this attempted took place? The reason why they have tried everything to somehow get me out of the way….., when that didn’t happen, this was planned. Two months ago, an agency produces this video which accuses me of blasphemy. There’s a journalist who was linked with these agencies comes up with this video saying how I had offended the religious sentiments of the people. The ruling party information minister along with the daughter of the former prime minister, Maryam, they then go on television, and say how I have upset the sentiments of the people. It is then that I went on air and said this is a planting. If they assassinated me, the evidence would go on the government. They made it out that it was a religious fanatic who is going to kill me…”

The anchor said, “Your allegations have been aggressively refuted. I have to put this to you. Pakistan’s prime minister has condemned the attack on her life …. The interior minister has rejected your accusations. This is such a grievous statement (on your part). The military has also issued this statement, saying, in part, quote, the baseless and irresponsible allegations by chairman pti against the institution, particularly a senior army officer, are absolutely unacceptable and uncalled for. Pakistan’s army prides itself for being an extremely professional and well-disciplined organization with a robust and highly effective accountability system, applicable across the board for unlawful acts committed by uniformed personnel. Pakistan’s ministry of information released a video ….. There was a confession …. the man said he wanted to kill you because you were misleading the people. Is it not conceivable that the perpetrator was acting alone against you and your party’s policies?

Imran Khan said, “First of all, there were two shooters. There was definitely, maybe another one. … After the attack, the things that have happened, the cover-up that is going on; that is why I’ve called for an independent investigation.”

The anchor asked, “You have blamed the US and other actors for ousting you as prime minister. You have made it abundantly clear to return to power. Wouldn’t accusing the current government without proof work in favour of your political endeavours? That is certainly what your critics are suggesting.”

Imran responded, “I don’t need any reason to accuse this government for me to get back into power…. this (PTI) is the most popular party. …. The two people I have accused, the prime minister and the interior minister, both have been accused for a massacre. Twelve people were massacred and about 60 were hit with bullets when the police opened fire at an unarmed crowd (Model Town). As far as the intelligence agency, the officer, we know how the evidence was, how the sole plot opened up. We know how the video, who made the video, how it was orchestrated, and the cover-up that is taking place.”

The anchor asked, “You continue to call this an assassination attempt. You say you had evidence is going to happen beforehand ….. I wonder what information you were given and from who to support those allegations?”

Imran Khan responded, “I was in power. I have connections with intelligence agencies…. How did I get the information? From within the intelligence agencies. Why? Most people are appalled by what is going on in this country. Most people think what is happening in is unprecedented. …. Never did the sort of oppression (happen) that is going on right now in Pakistan.”

When the anchor pointed out that the prime minister had lifted ban on coverage of his speeches, Imran said, “The shutdown on media is unprecedented. One of the best investigative journalists in Pakistan was assassinated in Kenya just a couple of weeks ago. This guy was exposing this whole project which took place against me. He was hounded out of Pakistan. He ended up going to Dubai. From there, he went to Kenya where he was killed. … Two of my closest aides — one was a senator. He was stripped naked, tortured. Both (Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill) blamed the senior intelligence officer who was responsible for the torture. …. To suddenly think that you will lift the ban on me, it would not have withstood (an order by) a court of law.

In an interview with Turkish TV channel, TRT, Imran Khan, “Psychologically, I’m more determined than ever. I was expecting something to happen. I predicted this four months ago that there was a plot against me.”

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, former prime minister and a senior PMLN leader, spoke with The Newsmakers and called the allegations levelled by Khan tragic. “It is a tragedy that a person of Imran Khan’s stature, who served as the prime minister of the country, would stoop so low to accuse the (sitting) prime minister and intelligence officials of being behind this shooting,” he said.

Abbasi said the shooting took place in a province which Khan’s PTI party controls and called for an investigation to ascertain “the motivation behind this shooting”. “The shooter has been arrested and the truth should come out. I think for Imran Khan to speculate and try to gain political points out of this is something that is very much not acceptable,” Abbasi said. Imran Khan rejected Abbasi’s statement, saying he does not need popularity gained by accusing others.