Imran Khan returns home, blames Pakistan army chief for his ‘abduction’

The Pakistan army meanwhile ruled out imposing martial law in the country amid the raging political crisis

Imran Khan arrest
Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan reaches Lahore after blaming army chief Gen Asim Munir for his arrest. (File photo)

Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan reached his Lahore house on Saturday (May 13) after alleging that army chief Gen Asim Munir was solely to blame for his “abduction” which triggered violent protests across the country.

The Pakistan army meanwhile ruled out imposing martial law in the country amid the raging political crisis. A military spokesman also denied rumours about alleged disaffection in the army against its top general.

A large number of supporters celebrated by beating drums, setting off firecrackers, and showering rose petals on Imran Khan as he walked into his residence accompanied by his sisters and other family members.

Also read: Islamabad high court grants two-week bail to Imran Khan in corruption case

The crowd also kept shouting slogans hailing the 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician and denouncing Pakistan’s coalition government which succeeded him in April last year.

But there was high drama in the Islamabad High Court even after he was granted protective bail for two weeks in a corruption case and the authorities were told not to arrest him in any case until Monday (May 15).

Islamabad standoff

Three different benches granted relief to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief.

Before his departure for Lahore in Punjab after securing blanket bail in a number of cases related to treason, violence, and corruption, Imran Khan was made to stay more than three hours in the court by the Islamabad police.

He finally left the court premises after a protracted standoff with the authorities.

Imran Khan, who is seeking early general elections, is facing over 120 cases across the country.

He accused the Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IG) Akbar Nasir of trying to detain him at the high court.

“They did not let us leave for three hours, saying it is dangerous outside,” the PTI chief said in a video message from his vehicle while being driven back to Lahore.

Imran-police tiff

He said he told the officer that he would tell the entire Pakistan that he was kidnapping him. That worked and he was allowed to go.

The Islamabad police later issued a statement saying providing security was a bilateral matter where the cooperation of the subject was required.

Also read: Pakistan SC declares Imran Khan’s arrest ‘illegal’, orders his release

“Imran Khan did not cooperate with us for security arrangements, thus he is responsible for his actions. If anything happens to him (Khan), the state institutions will not be responsible,” it said.

Imran Khan’s arrest on Tuesday (May 9) by the Pakistan Rangers at the Islamabad High Court triggered widespread protests in Pakistan which continued till Friday (May 12).

The protesters attacked dozens of military and state installations, including the army headquarters in Rawalpindi. A corps commander’s house in Lahore was torched.

Police put the death toll in violent clashes at 10 while the PTI claimed that 40 of its workers lost their lives in firing by security personnel.

Imran blames Army chief

Imran Khan has since distanced himself from the violent protests but reiterated that the army chief, General Asim Munir, was to blame for the way he was seized by Pakistan Rangers from the court on May 9.

“It is not the security agencies. It is one man, the army chief. There is no democracy in the army,” he told BBC. “The army is getting maligned (because of) what is happening.”

He explained why the army chief was acting thus.

“He is worried that if I come to power, I will de-notify him. Which, I tried my best to send him a message, I will not. All this is happening (due to) direct orders from him. He is the one who is convinced that if I win, he will be de-notified.”

Also read: Pakistan wakes up to more destruction, blocked roads after Imran Khan’s arrest

Imran Khan also alleged that government agencies had arrested 5,000 PTI activists across Pakistan during the last year. Media reports say around 550 PTI leaders at various levels have been detained in the latest turmoil.

Meanwhile, the military has ruled out imposing martial law in the country.

“I want to say very clearly that Gen Asim Munir and the senior army leadership under him wholeheartedly support democracy and will keep doing so. There is no question of martial law,” a military statement said.

(With agency inputs)