Lahore: Pakistan’s former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif said Wednesday that the unprecedented violence, including the attacks on key military installations, following ex-premier Imran Khan’s arrest in May was an attempt to topple Army Chief Gen Asim Munir.
The Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz [PML-N] party President made the remarks while addressing reporters after his appearance in the accountability court here in a corruption case.
Taking an indirect dig at the 71-year-old Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief Khan, who is in jail in the cipher case, for trying to topple the incumbent army chief through a planned conspiracy May 9, Sharif said the facilitators of the unprecedented attacks are the “state enemies”.
” May 9, an attempt was made to topple the army chief. No one…Be it (a) democracy or dictatorship tolerates treason. Thereby, the action is being taken against the May 9 culprits,” Sharif, 72, said.
Sharif further said no concession should be given to the facilitators of May 9 as they were “state enemies”.
Thousands of PTI supporters stormed military and government installations across the country following Khan’s arrest in an alleged corruption case in early May this year.
Subsequently, police arrested over 10,000 party leaders and workers, who have been languishing in jail since then.
The military also took action against more than a dozen high-ranking officers for being part of the conspiracy to oust Gen Munir.
“Three officers, including a lieutenant-general, have been removed from their jobs. Strict disciplinary proceedings against officers, including three major generals and seven brigadiers, have been completed in connection with the May 9 incidents,” the military had said earlier.
The PML-N party has declared Khan the mastermind of the attacks on military installations and demanded that the “PTI leadership involved in this crime should not be allowed to contest upcoming general elections February 8, 2024.”
General elections in cash-strapped Pakistan general elections are scheduled to be held February 8.
The military establishment has already carved out two parties — Istehkham-i-Pakistan Party (IPP) and PTI-Parliamentarian — from the PTI. It is also not allowing Khan’s party to participate in any political activity.
In a fresh round of action against the PTI party, police in Punjab alone arrested over 500 of its workers in connection with attacks on state buildings.
The PTI Core Committee has strongly condemned the state’s coercive tactics and reprisal actions against the party workers and leaders that continued even after the announcement of the poll date.
“The nation will not accept rigged polls held in such an uneven electoral field and with state interference,” it said.
Khan is currently detained at the high-security Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi in the cipher case in which he is accused of making public the content of a diplomatic cable from Pakistan’s embassy in Washington in March, 2022.
The former-cricketer-turned-politician was ousted through a vote of no-confidence in April 2022. More than 150 cases have been registered against him since his ouster from power.