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HomePakistanPakistan's Imran Khan openly accuses military of trying to destroy his party

Pakistan’s Imran Khan openly accuses military of trying to destroy his party

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Pakistan’s embattled former Prime Minister Imran Khan has accused the powerful military and its intelligence agency of openly trying to destroy his political party, saying he had “no doubt” he would be tried in a military court and thrown in jail.

Khan has hinted previously at the military’s hand in a crackdown on his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party but his comments in an interview at his Lahore home on Saturday night were the most blunt yet.

“It is completely the establishment,” the former cricket hero told Reuters, when asked who was behind the crackdown. “Establishment obviously means the military establishment, because they are really now openly – I mean, it’s not even hidden now – they’re just out in the open.”

A spokesman for the military, which has run the country directly or indirectly for its 75-year history, and has seldom faced the sort of public challenge to its power as it has from Khan, did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for the military, which has run the country directly or indirectly for its 75-year history, and has seldom faced the sort of public challenge to its power as it has from Khan, did not respond to a request for comment.

“I have absolutely no doubt that the military courts are meant for me,” said Khan, who is out on bail.

Amnesty International says Pakistan’s military courts have previously shown disregard for due process, lack of transparency, coerced confessions and executions after unfair trials.

SPY AGENCY

Khan said the country’s most powerful spy agency, the military’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), was deeply involved in the crackdown.

He said two senior members of his party were called by the agency for talks. “And when they went there, just they shut them up and said ‘You (won’t) leave unless you renounce being part of PTI.'”

Khan said he has tried to contact the military for talks to find a way out of the current crisis but had got no response, and that he did not know why the army chief, General Asim Munir, was “fixated” on sidelining him.

Before becoming army chief in November 2022, Munir was the head of the ISI – a post from which he was suddenly removed in 2019 while Khan was prime minister.

Khan himself was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote last year that he says was orchestrated by Pakistan’s top generals. The military denies this.

I think that maybe he has a grudge because I asked him to resign” as ISI chief, Khan said. “I don’t know.”

When asked why he had asked Munir to resign, Khan said: “You know, I, as prime minister, felt that how the intelligence agency was run… I had my issues with that.” He did not elaborate.

Munir was later selected as the country’s top general by Khan’s successor and political rival, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

“He shouldn’t have issues with that now because he is the army chief,” Khan said, referring to Munir’s removal as ISI head. “So why would he harbour that grudge?”

Khan said he was puzzled by the campaign against him.

“(I am) someone who’s been known in this country for 50 years, who’s probably won all the awards in this country and probably the most well-known Pakistani, and suddenly being treated as a sort of alien, as an enemy of the state.”

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