Ahead of the general elections in Pakistan, trouble mounts for jailed former Prime Minister Imran Khan as a probe committee found him and several other party leaders "guilty" of inciting May 9 violence.
According to a report by Pakistan English daily, Dawn, a joint investigation team has informed an anti-terrorism court in Lahore that Khan and several top leaders of his party were directly involved in orchestrating the unprecedented anti-government violence on May 9.
A Joint Investigation Team (JIT) was constituted to probe the violence in Punjab province following the arrest of Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party in connection with a corruption case on May 9. The JIT headed by DIG Operations Imran Kishwar on Thursday submitted chargesheets against PTI leaders and hundreds of workers before an anti-terrorism court, reported the Dawn newspaper on Friday.
Probe finds May 9 violence was "pre-planned”
According to Lahore police, Khan, 70, and over 900 other party leaders and activists named in the May 9 cases have been “declared guilty of serious offences”, the report said. In the chargesheets filed before the court, the prosecution alleged that the violent protests led by the suspects on May 9 were part of a planned conspiracy against the state.
It said over “400 pieces of video evidence, including speeches of the PTI chairman, proved that the attacks on military installations and premises in cantonment areas were pre-planned”.
A large number of PTI activists had attacked military installations, police vehicles, and other public and private properties in Lahore, according to the cases registered with the police. The vandalism at the Lahore Corps Commander’s House (Jinnah House), Askari Tower, and the Shadman police station were some of the major incidents during the violence.
“We have declared them prime accused in 12 out of the total 14 cases registered under the anti-terrorism act and other charges at Lahore’s various police stations… [and] challans have been submitted in the ATC,” the Dawn newspaper quoted DIG Kishwar as saying.
He said the JIT obtained “sufficient evidence” against the nominated persons, including Imran Khan, former Punjab governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema, former provincial ministers Mian Mehmoodur Rashid, Dr Yasmin Rashid, and others. The digital and photogrammetric evidence as well as voice messages of the suspects “confirmed the allegations” levelled against them in over a dozen cases lodged at different police stations in the provincial capital, the DIG said.
Probe finds Khan planned to push Pakistan towards civil war
According to the JIT report, Khan along with the cooperation of central, provincial and local leaderships, constituted this plan to push Pakistan towards civil war and the public was incited through fake and self-created stories, reported The Express Tribune.
Following the arrest of Imran Khan by paramilitary Rangers on May 9, unrest broke out in Pakistan that saw the torching and vandalising of dozens of military and state buildings, including the Army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the ISI building in Faisalabad.
Police arrested over 10,000 workers of PTI and over 100 are being tried under the Army Act.
Khan denied any involvement
Khan has denied masterminding or inciting the attacks stating that it was a well-planned conspiracy to oust its party from upcoming elections. He served as the country's prime minister until April last year and currently faces around 180 cases, most of which stem from incidents on May 9.
Khan, who has been detained since August 5 after his arrest following his conviction in the Toshakhana case, is currently serving his sentence in the cipher case in Adiala jail.
The Islamabad High Court suspended his sentence in the Toshakhana case on August 29.
(With inputs from agency)