Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed relevant authorities on Monday to provide foolproof security to his predecessor Imran Khan after the PTI chairperson said on multiple occasions that there was a threat to his life.
According to state-run Radio Pakistan, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah briefed PM Shehbaz in detail about security arrangements for Imran. The premier instructed Sanaullah to provide the “best security” to the PTI chief.
Separately, the Prime Minister’s Office said that similar instructions were also issued to the provincial governments. “Moreover, a chief security officer has also been provided to [the] former prime minister on the directions of [the] PM,” it added.
According to the Radio Pakistan report, an interior ministry spokesperson also issued a statement confirming that in light of the PM’s instructions, foolproof security arrangements for Imran had been ensured.
“Police and other law enforcement agencies have been directed to ensure complete deployment of the security personnel assigned for the former prime minister,” the report quoted the spokesperson as saying, adding that 94 police and Frontier Corps (FC) personnel had been deployed for the security of the former premier’s Banigala residence.
Thirty-five personnel of two security companies were also deployed for security of his Banigala residence, the spokesman added.
Moreover, he said, 36 personnel of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police and six from Gilgit-Baltistan police had been deployed by their respective governments for Imran’s security.
The spokesperson said four vehicles and 23 personnel of Islamabad police and one vehicle and five personnel of the FC were dedicated to accompanying the PTI chairperson during movement.
He further said that under the supervision of the interior ministry, a “threat assessment company is constantly reviewing matters pertaining to the security of Imran Khan”.
And if the former premier “has any specific information, he should share it with the interior ministry so that further arrangements of security could be put in place”, he added. “Being a former Prime Minister, it is [the] national responsibility of Imran Khan to keep the interior ministry and other relevant institutions informed about any possible threat to his life and other matters.”
He assured that further steps would be taken for the former premier’s security in light of the information shared by Imran.
Interior minister downplays the threat
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah downplayed the threat, saying that Imran was trying to build a narrative of a threat to his life, just like he had built one around a “US conspiracy” to oust his government.
In a series of tweets, he said if the PTI chief had any solid evidence of the possible threat to his life, he should immediately share it with the interior ministry.
The government, he said, was ready to probe the purported threat to Imran’s life and that a judicial commission could also be formed for this purpose if the PTI chief wanted.
“The judicial commission could review the evidence and information provided by Imran Niazi and take an independent decision,” Sanaullah said.
“If Imran Niazi doesn’t provide information pertaining to the threat to his life, this narrative too will be considered a political stunt, just like that of the US conspiracy. A former prime minister using a threat to his life as a political stunt is extremely unfortunate and could be dangerous,” the minister added.
Sanaullah advised Imran to refrain from presenting the matter as “political propaganda” and to share evidence of the alleged threat with the government.
Claims of threat to life
In the recent past, claims about a threat to Imran’s life were first made by PTI leader Faisal Vawda during ARY News show “Off the Record” on March 30, merely days before the PTI chief was ousted through a no-confidence vote.
Vawda had said during the television programme that a conspiracy was being hatched to assassinate the then-prime minister over his refusal to “sell the country” — apparently an allusion to the PTI ‘s claim that a foreign conspiracy, orchestrated by the US and facilitated by local abettors, had led to his ouster due to its pursuance of an independent foreign policy.
A day later, then-information minister Fawad Chaudhry had reiterated the threat, saying that a plot to assassinate Imran had been reported by security agencies and subsequently, his security had been beefed up.
Later on April 20, Lahore Additional Deputy Commissioner Atiyab Sultan had written to PTI leaders, recommending that Imran virtually address a rally due to be held in the city the next day in light of “severe threat alerts”.
However, Imran had physically attended the rally, with PTI Additional Secretary Information Hassan Khawar telling DawnNewsTV at the time that the party would not be discouraged through such tactics by the government.
“The government should not be worried by the PTI’s campaign,” Khawar had said.
PM Shehbaz had then directed the relevant authorities to provide foolproof security to the PTI chief and directed the interior minister to personally monitor the situation. Home secretaries of all the provinces were also instructed to ensure foolproof security during the travel of Imran Khan anywhere in the country.
On Saturday, Imran had said while addressing a rally in Sialkot that his life was in danger and that he had recorded a video in which he had taken the names of all those who “conspired against me” since last summer.
“There is a conspiracy hatched against me in closed rooms in and outside the country, and they want that Imran Khan’s life [is lost],” he had said. “I knew of this conspiracy … so I have recorded a video and kept it in a secure place. If something happens to me then this video will be [made public]. In it, whoever has conspired against me, whoever is complicit since last summer, I’ve named everyone.”
He reiterated on Sunday (yesterday) that his life was under threat and that he had recorded a video message to be released in case he was killed, asking his supporters to “get justice for me and our country in case something happens to me”.
Addressing a rally in Faisalabad, Imran had said: “I’ve recorded a video because I know Pakistan’s history. It tells us our justice system can’t apprehend powerful criminals, so I leave it to the people. If something happens to me, then the nation will have to get me justice.”
“Will you do it?” the PTI chairman had asked a charged crowd.
“You have to make two promises with me. If something happens to me then those I name in the video, you have to stand up to them and ensure they are taken to court so that the first time the powerful will face the law,” the PTI chief had said.