Pakistani minister accuses Imran Khan of inciting violence

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DUBAI: Pakistan’s information minister accused former Prime Minister Imran Khan of inciting violence on Saturday, following his political party’s call for a nationwide protest in response to his shooting.

On Thursday, Khan was shot in the leg while waving to crowds from a truck-mounted container while leading a protest march from Lahore to Islamabad to pressure the government into calling an early election.

Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, was deposed in an April parliamentary vote of no confidence and has since frequently claimed that his demise was the result of a US-backed “foreign conspiracy.” The claim is denied by both Washington and Khan’s opponents, who are now in power.

Khan has held three officials accountable since the shooting: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and Inter-Services Intelligence Director-General for Counterintelligence Maj. Gen. Faisal Naseer.

He has, however, failed to provide evidence to back up his accusations, which the government and military have called baseless and irresponsible.

Pakistan’s Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the former leader wanted “chaos in the country” after Khan’s party called on supporters to mobilize across the country on Saturday to protest what they say was an assassination attempt and demand Sharif’s resignation.

“It’s absurd, it’s ridiculous to the extreme,” she told Arab News over the phone on Saturday.

“How does the prime minister fit into this?” Mr. Khan is inciting violence and instilling hatred in Pakistan.”

Because the attack occurred in Punjab province, which is ruled by the PTI, Aurangzeb said Khan had everything he needed to conduct an investigation — administration, police, and intelligence — but had yet to file even a first information report, which is the first step in the legal process for starting an inquiry.

“It is a fact that it has been 48 hours since the incident and the FIR report has not been registered in any police station in Punjab,” she said, adding that if Khan so desired, he could request assistance from an international agency, such as the UK’s Scotland Yard.

According to Aurangzeb, the Pakistani government immediately requested an investigation following the attack.

“As soon as this incident occurred, Pakistan’s prime minister called the interior minister and immediately requested an initial report from the chief secretary of Punjab and the IG (Inspector General) in Punjab,” she explained.

“And the interior minister was directed to provide all recourses and assistance to the Punjab government for any investigation or security they require.”

However, at a press conference on Friday at the Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital in Lahore, Khan, who was sitting in a wheelchair with his legs bandaged, questioned the possibility of an impartial investigation.

“Three people devised the scheme,” he told reporters, naming Sharif, Sanaullah, and Nasser.

“How will there be an investigation unless these three people resign?”

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