ISLAMABAD    -   Former federal minister and PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry on Thursday called the government’s attempts to “create a divide” between party chairman Imran Khan and the army as an “absurd and disappointing” move, reiterating that the ex-premier had always worked for the prosperity of the country.

“Imran has clearly said that he does not have a penny abroad. The person who has all the interests in Pakistan would always want the country’s army to strengthen,” he said.

The PTI leader’s statements comes during a press conference in response to the government’s allegations that Imran and his party members were spreading hate against the country’s institutions.

Earlier this week, the party leader Shahbaz Gill was also arrested on charges of sedition and inciting the public against state institutions.

At the press conference, Chaudhry asserted that Pakistan’s progress was directly dependent on its army, clarifying that was exactly what the PTI chairman also wanted. “Whatever Imran Khan has done for the country, it is for the public and people of Pakistan and the army are not separate. The army is a part of the people.”

The former minister said that a new era of atrocities and barbarism had been launched in Pakistan.

“Women and children are being picked up,” he pointed out, referring to the recent arrest of the wife of Gill’s driver. “We saw the director of ARY News was taken late at night. He has young children and now they are in trauma,” Chaudhry said.

“They are forcing people to accept their government. “But this can’t happen because the people will only accept those who they elect, not those who are imposed,” he added.

Talking about August 13 rally, the PTI leader said that the party had taken “full responsibility” to ensure that any part of the stadium was not damaged, including the AstroTurf, adding that replacing it was already a part of the government’s plan.

Chaudhry further said that the PTI was incurring the expenses of the August 13 rally. He was confident that the gathering will show the love the people of Lahore had for the party and Imran Khan.