Long march to resume tomorrow

LAHORE (Agencies): PTI Chairman Imran Khan said Monday that the party’s long march would achieve its target “no matter what the circumstances” as the former prime minister pressurises the government in his quest for snap polls.
Khan is currently recovering in Lahore from the bullet injuries that he sustained in the Wazirabad attempted assassination attack. He was discharged from the Shaukat Khanum Hospital a day earlier. The ex-prime minister, during a meeting with representatives of media bodies, said that the party would back down only after getting the date for general elections.
Khan said that no compromise can be made with coalition rulers, including PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari and PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif. In a change of plans, Khan said the march would resume on Wednesday (November 9) instead of Tuesday. The PTI chief did not give a reason for the delay. He said the march would be led by PTI Secretary-General Asad Umar and the party’s vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi.
The long march had come to a halt last week after the attack on Khan. The PTI chief — who has been critical of the armed forces since his ouster in April — said that the personnel of the army standing guard on the borders were like his “children”. Khan said that going against the institution was not an option for the party. The former prime minister has blamed three people, including a senior military official, for the Wazirabad attack and also called for his dismissal. However, the army has rejected the allegation and termed it “baseless”.
Meanwhile, former prime minister Imran Khan has called on President Arif Alvi to define “clear operational lines” of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) while also asking him to act against the “abuse of power and violations of our laws and of the Constitution,” it emerged on Monday.
In a letter dated November 6, the PTI chief appealed to the president to take note of “serious wrongdoings” which were undermining the country’s national security. He also asked Alvi to identify the “guilty” and hold them accountable. He lamented that since the PTI government’s ouster, the party had been confronted with “an ever increasing scale of false allegations, harassment, arrests and custodial torture”.
Imran claimed that Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had repeatedly issued death threats against him. He also reiterated his claims about a conspiracy being hatched to assassinate him by the interior minister, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a senior military official. “The plot was operationalised earlier this week during our long march but Allah saved me and the assassination attempt failed,” he said.
In his letter, Imran raised three separate points regarding the Prime Minister Office leak, the cypher controversy and the role of the ISPR. He claimed that Official Secrets Act was breached when a “confidential conversation between myself as prime minister, the Chief of Army Staff and the director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), on a supposedly secure line, was ‘leaked’ to the media”.
“This raises a very serious question as to who or what organisation was involved in doing a clearly illegal wiretap of the PM’s secure phone line? This is a breach of national security at the highest level,” he said. A series of separate audio recordings surfaced in September, allegedly featuring the leadership of the PTI and PML-N holding informal conversations never meant to be heard by the public.
Imran also went on to talk about the cypher controversy, which the former premier has long touted of as evidence to overturn his government through a foreign conspiracy. He noted that the National Security Committee (NSC) meeting held during his tenure had “decided this was an unacceptable intrusion into our internal matters” which was also later reaffirmed during the meeting held under the Shehbaz government.
However, the joint press conference of the DG ISI and DG ISPR had the “former contradicting the decision made by the NSC under two governments and stating that the message of the US government conveyed by our envoy in Washington DC in the cypher was not an unacceptable intrusion into our internal affairs but simply a case of ‘misconduct’.” “The question that needs to be examined is how two military bureaucrats can publicly contradict a decision of the NSC? This also raises the serious issue of these military bureaucrats deliberately trying to create a false narrative.”
Imran also posed two further questions: how the head of Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency could hold a public press conference and how two military bureaucrats could hold a “highly political press conference”. “The parameters of a military information organisation such as the ISPR also need to be clearly defined and limited to information relating to defence and military issues. As supreme commander of the armed forces, I call on you to initiate the drawing up of these clear operational lines for the ISPR.”
Imran concluded his letter by telling Alvi to protect the country’s democracy and Constitution. “No person or state institution can be above the law of the land. We have been seeing a massive abuse of citizens at the hands of rogue elements within state organisations, including custodial torture and abductions all carried out with impunity.
“You hold the highest office of state and I am requesting you to act now to stop the abuse of power and violations of our laws and of the Constitution, which ensures the fundamental rights of every citizen,” Imran wrote in the letter.