Imran draws PPP’s ire for ‘dangerous accusations’

PM Shehbaz comes to Zardari's defence; slams Imran for 'nonsensical rhetoric' to remain politically relevant


Our Correspondent January 28, 2023

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ISLAMABAD:

The Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) on Saturday exploded in recriminations over PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s allegations that former president Asif Ali Zardari was plotting a “Plan C” with the aid of a terrorist outfit to assassinate him, and announced its decision to take the matter to court.

Sounding alarms that the statements could inflame sentiments and galvanise PTI workers to act against the PPP leadership, the party aimed fire at Imran for potentially ‘dog-whistling’ to extremists and thus intensifying the threat of violence.

Furthermore, the former premier’s accusations also spurred warnings from the PPP’s key ally and the ruling party in the Centre, the PML-N, as it came to its defence against the "baseless and dangerous" allegations.

Addressing the media, PPP leaders Farhatullah Babar, Nayyar Bukhari, and Qamar Zaman Kaira said Imran had “lost his mind” and the party would issue a legal notice demanding he takes back his allegations.

Bukhari said the PPP maintained that Imran’s frantic accusations were “baseless and a lie”, adding that he had “politically died” and was now “afflicted with depression and panic”.

He noted that the panic-stricken PTI chief was casting aspersions at institutions including the establishment, the ECP and the former chief of army staff.

For his part, Kaira deplored Imran’s politics that depended on throwing political opponents in jails, character assassinations, disrespect and sowing panic. He added that Imran’s politics were a tenant of fascism, and his governance was not democratic.

“This is not an empty blame, Imran has made a very specific blame that our leaders paid terrorist factions and that intelligence agencies were involved in the conspiracy,” he said. The PPP leader demanded that Imran present his information and evidence.

According to Kaira, this was not a mere defamation case and Imran’s words could instigate PTI workers to act against PPP leadership. “Imran fundamentally wants to fight. He is trying to escape as his politics shrink”.

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He added that the PPP would fulfil its political and legal responsibilities, but requested the judiciary to investigate the matter and hold the perpetrator responsible, regardless of political affiliations.

“If Imran does not provide evidence to support his allegations, action should be taken against him,” he stated.

Kaira continued that the PPP leadership had expressed their grievances after the Wazirabad attack against Imran and had asked the courts to investigate the matter. However, he furthered, Imran’s own provincial government formed a joint investigation team (JIT) and continuously changed the chief.

“The final report, presented by a person the PPP did not support, highlighted that the perpetrator in the Wazirabad attack was acting on his own accord,” he said.

“The Supreme Court should take notice of Imran’s allegations, bring them to a conclusion and punish whoever is in the wrong,” he said, adding that the allegations were an attempt to ruin the remaining reputation of Pakistan which the PPP would “not permit”.

He furthered that Imran claimed there would be chaos if he was arrested, however, no one had been arrested under the PDM rule. He maintained that PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry was arrested on a notice from the ECP.

“I condemn the media factions who debated on whether the government ordered the ECP to send the notice for Fawad’s arrest. Fawad himself spoke out against the ECP,” Kaira clarified.

The PPP leader continued that the incumbent government would have arrested Imran if they wanted to, through a series of fake cases -- a strategy used by the PTI chief.

“He has gathered workers outside his residence to evade arrest. He used to claim everyone is equal before the law, therefore he should come out and face the law”.

Former Senate chair Nayyar Bukhari added that the PPP’s legal team would send a legal notice and do everything constitutionally and lawfully.

“The PPP has been a target of the [terrorist] factions Imran claims we are involved with,” Bukhari said. He maintained that Imran was involved with the aforementioned factions, which is why he was called “Taliban Khan”.

‘Defamatory and dangerous’

Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said his party was “exploring legal response” to Imran Khan’s allegations.

“We [PPP] are exploring legal response to Imran’s latest defamatory & dangerous accusations. In the past, he threatened my father that he was ‘in the crosshairs of his gun’.”

The foreign minister said that the “false accusations” increased “threats to my father, my family and my part”. “We take them seriously given our history”. He also highlighted the fact that he and his party were called out by name in a recent threat letter by a terrorist outfit.

Bilawal alleged Imran had “released terrorists and arrested democrats” during his tenure, had handed over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to terrorist organisations, and that the PTI still “funds terrorist groups”.

He said Imran and his associates had a “well-documented” history as “both sympathisers and facilitators of terrorists” and asserted that all of it would be taken into account if any attack were to take place on him, Zardari, or his party.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also lashed out at Imran Khan in a tweet and said the “baseless & dangerous allegations against former President Asif Ali Zardari are not only irresponsible but also conform to a pattern of conspiracy theories meant to spread venom against his political opponents”.

PM Shehbaz said Imran’s “nonsensical rhetoric” is an attempt to remain politically relevant. “The whole nation knows how he has used politics of hatred to divide the society for the sake of power,” he added.

A day earlier, in an explosive news conference from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore via a video link, the former prime minister had alleged a conspiracy – ‘Plan-C’ – was being hatched under which Zardari was bankrolling terrorist outfit to carry out the assassination attempt on his life.

“This has been decided on three fronts and they will act soon,” he added. “I am telling you this because if something happens to me the nation should know the people, who were behind this, so that the nation never forgives them,” he said.

Referring to the gun attack on him in Wazirabad in November last year, Imran further claimed that there was a plot to kill him under ‘Plan B’ in the name of religious extremism. “They almost succeeded in their plan to kill me but now they are moving towards Plan C,” he added.

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