Saturday Mar 18, 2023
LAHORE: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has formed a committee to lead the party if Imran Khan is arrested, the former prime minister told Reuters hours before an appearance before a court that had issued arrest warrants for him.
The former premier and cricket legend has led country-wide protests after his ouster from power last year and has had a spate of cases registered against him.
"I have made a committee which will obviously take decisions once — if — I'm inside" jail, the 70-year-old said in an interview in his Lahore home before heading to Islamabad early on Saturday.
The police attempt to arrest Khan recently led to clashes in which dozens of policemen were injured. However, hours after Khan made his way to attend the Toshakhana case hearing in the capital today, Punjab Police made their way into his Zaman Park residence and arrested several party workers.
He told Reuters there were 94 cases against him.
Khan, who was shot and wounded while campaigning in November, said the threat to his life is greater than before and asserted — without providing evidence — that his opponents want to block him from standing in elections later this year.
Khan said there was no reason he should be arrested now because he had bail on all his cases. If convicted in a case, Khan could face disqualification from contesting the elections scheduled for November.
"The establishment right now somehow feels threatened by me. And that is the issue," he claimed.
"My life is even more at threat than it was then," he said, adding that he was worried about the reaction to his arrest or any attempt to assassinate him.
"I feel that there would be a very strong reaction, and it would be a reaction all over Pakistan."
The former prime minister has generated popular support among Pakistanis amid decades-high inflation and a crippling economic slowdown as the country implements painful fiscal reforms to avert default. Thousands have rallied behind him every time he has called for demonstrations.
"I just think that those who are trying to do this just cannot comprehend the situation. Unfortunately, the mind that is thinking of either killing me or putting me in jail, I don't think they comprehend where Pakistan is situated right now."
Khan claimed the military had had a role in pushing him out of power after relations soured with the previous army chief, General (retd) Qamar Javed Bajwa, who retired in November.