Imran says members being forced to leave PTI at ‘gunpoint’

ISLAMABAD, May 23 : Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan on Tuesday claimed that members of his party were being forced to leave the PTI at “gunpoint”.

Speaking informally to journalists at an anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad, Imran said, “People are not leaving the party on their own, they are being forced to do so, and that too at gunpoint”.

However, he maintained he was not bothered by the several Key PTI  leaders who have in recent days called it quits, saying that “parties never die down like that; they are weeded out like the [ruling coalition] PDM is eroding, the way their vote bank is depleting.”

“I am only worried about the workers and especially the women,” he added.

The PTI chief made these remarks ahead of his hearing at the ATC where judge Raja Jawad Abbas was hearing his petition for bail in eight different cases.

Imran was booked under terrorism charges over violence that ensued outside the Judicial Complex ahead of his hearing in regard to the Toshakhana case in April.

During the proceedings, Imran’s lawyer Salman Safdar told the court that Imran faced security threats and for that reason, the Lahore ATC had granted him permission to have his statement recorded by the judicial investigation team (JIT) at his residence in Zaman Park.

“It is not that we do not wish to face these cases,” the lawyer argued.

“We are prepared to answer every question,” he added saying that if the court would permit him, he would present his arguments for all cases in the next hearing.

The lawyer also said that there were several cases pending hearing on June 8 at the Islamabad High Court (IHC) against Imran where the accusations were to the extent of “personal choices”.

Meanwhile, the special prosecutor argued that Imran had failed to appear before the court on April 6 and 18 and even refused to join the investigation being pursued by the JIT in four cases. He stressed that in case of interim bail, it is necessary for the accused to join the investigation.

“The high court has said that the investigators may go to the accused and have him join the investigation,” the judge observed.

However, the special prosecutor maintained that these orders were given in another case, not the one that was before the court today.

Meanwhile, Imran’s lawyer alleged that the investigators were “not interested in running a criminal investigation and are only insisting that we go there”.

“We are ready to answer if there are any questions,” he added; but the special prosecutor nonetheless maintained that the IHC had ordered Imran to join the investigation.

Taking the podium himself, Imran said he had faced two assassination attempts, one at the Wazirabad rally and the second at the Judicial Complex.

“The interior minister even admitted on Monday that there was a threat to my life,” he said. “Every time I leave the house,” he said, “I put my life in danger”.

The court expressed its dismay at the absence of the JIT from the court proceedings questioning if they thought “they are above the law”.

Later, the ATC extended Imran’s bail until June 8 in eight different cases and summoned the JIT officers who have been directed to appear shortly. The court has sought an explanation from the officers about the method whereby Imran is to join the investigation.

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