Imran Khan was the mastermind of the unprecedented anti-government protests across Pakistan on May 9 and it was aimed at toppling the military leadership, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said.
Pakistan saw massive nationwide anti-government protests following the arrest of Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman by paramilitary Rangers in a corruption case on May 9. Khan, 70, was later released on bail. Dozens of military installations and government buildings, including the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, were damaged or torched during the riots. Over 100 vehicles of police and other security agencies were set on fire.
In an interview with Geo News channel, Sharif said men, women, a cabal, some military men and their families were involved in the events of May 9, dubbed “Black Day” by the powerful military. “Those involved in the May 9 incidents wanted to overthrow the military leadership,” he said. The prime minister said the planners wanted “anarchy” and “war” in the country.
PTI Chairman Khan was the mastermind of the May 9 incidents, the Geo News reported, quoting Sharif.
Following the violent protests, law enforcement agencies arrested over 10,000 PTI workers across Pakistan, 4,000 of them from Punjab province only. According to Khan, over 16 PTI workers were killed in the violence. Police have put the death toll to 10.
Khan is also facing numerous cases related to attacks on military installations. Currently, he is facing over 150 cases related to terrorism, murder and blasphemy. He is reportedly under virtual house arrest at his private residence. Law enforcement agencies have arrested over 10,000 PTI workers across Pakistan, 4,000 of them from Punjab province only.
The PTI contests that its members were not involved in the attacks, but the government and military reject the claims and say they have “irrefutable evidence” of their involvement.
Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan. The US has repeatedly dismissed his allegations.