Chairman Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan dismisses accusations his planned shutdown of the nation’s capital could lead to a military coup.
He dismissed claims he wants the army to topple Sharif, as it did when Sharif was in power in the 1990s, and said the protests aim to hold the prime minister to account for alleged corruption.
“If he is in trouble there, why blame me? I’m doing what an opposition is supposed to do. Exposes corruption, exposes breaking the laws of the land. That’s what I’m doing,” Imran Khan said in interview to Reuters.
“It doesn’t mean I’m asking the army to come in. I don’t need the army. We are the only political party in Pakistan that has street power now. No other party can pull people out on the streets,” he added.
Khan said it is corruption, not protests that threatens democracy.
“When you have, people coming into power and looting the country, they actually weaken the democratic system, because people lose faith in democracy. Because people in the end… and when the army comes in they welcome them with sweets,” he said.
Khan blamed Sharif for the latest tensions between the government and the military, saying Sharif’s allies leaked details of the security meeting to the Dawn newspaper.
“They messed it up I mean they have humiliated the army, they’ve exposed the army, they’ve ridiculed the army because of that (newspaper leak) leaks. What have we got to do with it?” he said.
The October 6 Dawn article said top PML-N politicians confronted high-ranking military officials and called for the military not to interfere if civilian authorities tried to arrest members of anti-India militant groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Khan said that unless Sharif agreed to his demands over the Panama Papers investigation, there was little the government could do to make him call off Wednesday’s protests.
However, he sought to downplay his party’s calls to “lock down” the city roads and paralyse the capital, something that prompted the authorities to ban all public gatherings.
Khan said his previous rallying cries for supporters to stop the government functioning were not a direct threat, but rather a prediction.
“When there are a million people he won’t be able to govern. And we are giving him either resign or present yourself for accountability,” he said.