Lahore: Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan on Friday accused ex-president Asif Ali Zardari of paying terrorists and hatching a fresh plan along with people in the country’s powerful intelligence agencies to assassinate him after the previous two attempts failed.
Khan, during a virtual press conference from his Lahore’s Zaman Park residence here, said that there were three more names along with Zardari, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-Chairman, who are part of this new plot.
“I am telling you this because if something happens to me the nation should know the people who were behind this so that the nation never forgives them,” Khan, the chairman of the Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said.
“Now they have made a Plan C, and Asif Zardari is behind this. He has an ample amount of corruption money, which he loots from the Sindh government and spends on winning elections. He has given money to a terrorist outfit and people from powerful agencies are facilitating him. This has been decided on three fronts and they will act soon,” he claimed.
Khan’s claim comes against the backdrop of the government’s withdrawal of his additional security from his Lahore residence.
“At least 275 policemen deployed at Khan’s residence have been withdrawn,” a government official told PTI on Friday.
He said both security personnel of Islamabad and Kyber Pakhtunkhwa police have been recalled and now only Punjab police cops are deployed for his security.
“Earlier, in a public rally, I had told my supporters that there were four people who had planned to kill me [ ] but they backed off when I made these revelations,” Khan said.
Then a “plan B” was made to “eliminate” me in the name of religion, Khan continued, referring to the attack on his life in Wazirabad. “But I got to know about that too and I revealed their plan in two public rallies.”
Khan suffered bullet injuries in the right leg on November 3 when gunmen fired a volley of bullets at him and others standing on a container-mounted truck in the Wazirabad area (some 150 kilometres from Lahore), where he was leading the long march to press for snap polls.
Khan, 70, had earlier blamed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Major General Faisal Naseer of ISI for that plot.
He said that the nation should be aware of who was behind his assassination bid so “they cannot enjoy their lives after they have done this”.
He went on to say that irrespective of whatever was planned, he would be back in the streets as soon as he recovered from the injuries he had sustained during the Wazirabad attack.
“My (bullet) injury will be healed in two weeks or so and take to the streets against this fascist government of Shehbaz Sharif.”
“The nation is looking towards the judiciary as this is a decisive moment,” Khan said, mentioning that since his ouster, several people have been unmasked.
Meanwhile, the PPP has dismissed Khan’s allegation and announced that it will take him to court.
“This is a frivolous allegation of a frustrated man and we will take Imran Khan to court,” Farooq Saeed, the party’s Punjab president, said.
Following the rupee’s historic fall against the US dollar in the country, the PTI chief during the press conference also hit out at the incumbent government and predicted hyperinflation and “insurmountable” economic challenges in days to come.
“During the past three days, the local unit plunged by Rs33 against the US dollar,” he said. “The rupee fell by Rs84 during the last nine months.”
While giving the reasons behind the devaluation of the local currency, the deposed prime minister said that the country’s foreign currency reserves have reached a record low. “Foreign currency reserves sink to USD 3.6 billion.”
Khan also lambasted Prime Minister Sharif, saying that he has now become aware of what sort of a “genius” Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Ishaq Dar is.
The Pakistani rupee extended its downward trend today with the local currency plunging Rs7.17, or 2.73 per cent, against the US dollar in the interbank market as the government eased its control over the currency to convince the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to release a pending loan tranche.
“Those who will bailout Pakistan out of this condition [ ] remember that they will ask for a price. The International Monetary Fund has asked Egypt and Sri Lanka to reduce their armies [ ] it can ask us to do the same,” Khan said.
Facing an acute balance of payments crisis, Pakistan is desperate to secure external financing, with less than three weeks’ worth of import cover in its foreign exchange reserves, which fell USD 923 million to USD 3.68 billion in the latest data.
Pakistan secured a USD 6 billion IMF bailout in 2019. It was topped up with another USD 1 billion last year to help the country following devastating floods, but the IMF then suspended disbursements in November due to Pakistan’s failure to make more progress on fiscal consolidation.