PTI chief claims a conspiracy being hatched to pit his party against army n Says PTI holds street power to shut down entire country n Condemns arrest of Shehbaz Gill.

ISLAMABAD   -    PTI chairman and former prime minister Imran Khan on Wednes­day accused the coalition govern­ment of hatching a conspiracy to pit his party against the military.

Addressing his party workers and supporters via video link, Imran said that the coalition government is conspiring that the country’s biggest party fight its own army. “It is being done under a plan and they want to give an impression that the PTI is anti-army,” he added.

The former premier said that when his government was oust­ed, India, Israel and many west­ern countries were the happi­est. “India used to say Imran Khan is a puppet of the army but during our tenure, the army and the government were on the same page,” he added. They have prepared a plan to crush the PTI, he further said.

Earlier, senior leadership of the party assembled at the Bani Gala secretariat and thoroughly discussed the situation after the arrest of PTI Chairman’s Chief of Staff, Shehbaz Gill. On Tues­day, PTI leader Shahbaz Gill was arrested on charges of sedition and inciting the public against state institutions. Imran’s state­ments come after the government al­leged that the ex-premier and oth­er PTI leaders were spreading hate against the country’s institutions. In his address, Imran said that a “fright­ening conspiracy” was being devised to present Pakistan’s biggest political party and the army as opponents”. “Let me tell you […] this plot is extremely dangerous and can damage the coun­try,” he said, recalling that when the PTI came to power, the coalition gov­ernment was pained to see his rela­tionship with the army. “Nawaz and Zardari who are calling us traitors to­day went on international platforms and gave interviews against the army,” the PTI chief said and then went on to play clips of the coalition leaders’ past statements against state institutions.

Imran continued that all of it was being done to break the party be­cause “right now PTI, on both federal and provincial levels has the biggest voter bank in the country”. “And the first tactic they have used is in front of you […] the foreign funding case,” he added. He claimed that the case was baseless. “They are just trying to show that the money we collect­ed from overseas Pakistanis is illegal. They are accusing the party that col­lected money from fundraising and has credible audit reports,” he said.

“But the ECP knows that these parties raised money illegally and this is the reason why it won’t investigate them,” the former prime minister claimed, adding that the day the matter was in­vestigated by the courts, it would be proven that “only PTI raised money lawfully in Pakistan”. He added that the same was being done in the Toshakha­na Reference, saying that all the past prime ministers and presidents and people appointed to higher ranks got gifts. “Investigate all of them,” Imran demanded, claiming that both cases were being used to disqualify him.

The PTI chairman maintained that his party had always thought about Pakistan at every juncture. He said the PTI holds the street power to shut down the entire country but current economic conditions were such that everyone should be worried about them. “Even when we demonstrate, it is peaceful. Tell us of any single inci­dent where we did vandalism or tried to harm the country,” he added.

Talking about Gill’s arrest, Im­ran said that no action was taken against PML-N leaders Nawaz Shar­if, Maryam Nawaz, and others when they spoke against the army. The PTI chairman also raised concerns over the rumours of a “deal between Pa­kistan and the West over using the country’s airspace”, warning that any such thing would only lead to fur­ther destruction and loss of life in the country. “If we have made such a deal, I want to say this again […] we helped in the past […] after that, we were used, we were sanctioned […] we received threats and the nation paid a huge price,” he added.

He went on to say that if Paki­stan became a part of that agenda again with just a few dollars, the re­sult would be the same. “We will get trapped in a conflict again […] the loss will be more and the benefit less,” he warned. Imran also highlighted the rise in activities by the Tehreek-e-Tal­iban Pakistan in the northern areas. “They are targeting and threatening PTI ministers there,” he said, adding that this seemed like another con­spiracy to weaken the party.

The former prime minister also said that attempts were being made to assassinate his character and trap him in cases. Imran further said that after news channels, the government would approach social media in­fluencers and YouTubers and force them to humiliate him publicly. “This action that they have taken against ARY News is also part of that plan,” he alleged, adding that any channel or social media platform that sup­ports PTI’s narrative would be taken down in the upcoming days.