Imran Khan has turned politics into enmity and taken it to a point where "either he or us" will be "eliminated" from the political arena, Pakistan's Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said, warning that the ruling party will go to any extent to protect its existence.
In an interview with a private TV channel, the senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) termed the ex-prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief an "enemy" of his party and said Khan will be "treated like that".
Sanaullah, who is very close to former premier and London-based PML-N supremo Nawaz Sharif, said when the ruling party feels that its existence is under threat, it will go to any extent against its chief political rival.
“Either he will be eliminated from the political arena or us. He has now taken the country’s politics to a point where only one of the two can remain - PTI or PML-N," he said on Saturday.
"PML-N's entire existence is in jeopardy and we will go to any extent against him. Khan has turned politics into enmity. Khan is now our enemy and he will be treated like that," Sanaullah, 68, asserted.
Khan, after surviving an attack on him during a rally in Wazirabad in Punjab province in November last year, had named Sanaullah behind the assassination attempt on him.
Khan, 70, also blamed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and a senior ISI officer for their role in the assassination bid.
Khan “even blamed me, Prime Minister Shehbaz and an army officer for plotting to kill him,” Sanaullah said, apprehending that the PTI chief’s narrative was creating bad blood among followers of both parties and either he or they could be killed (by followers of each other’s party), the Dawn newspaper reported.
Asked if such remarks could result in anarchy in Pakistan, the minister said: “Anarchy already prevails in Pakistan.”
The minister said the differences between Khan and former army chief Gen (retd.) Qamar Javed Bajwa had developed on the issue of “eliminating the then opposition” by hook or crook.
He said Khan has been trying for the past 11 months to “set fire to the country” but the coalition government always exercised restraint to save the situation from getting worse.
Reacting strongly to Sanaullah's statement, PTI leader and former federal information minister Fawad Chaudhry said: "This is a direct life threat to Khan from the PML-N coalition government."
“Is Sanaullah running a gang or government? The Supreme Court had rightly declared Sharifs-led PMLN a Sicilian mafia and his statement is evidence of it," he said.
The PTI has also urged the apex court to take notice of the statement, terming it an open threat to Khan's life.
"If anyone has any doubts about Sanaullah's murderous intent towards Khan. This is a direct threat given by the cabal of crooks’ interior minister. The judiciary should take note,” PTI senior leader and former minister Shireen Mazari said in a tweet.
The PTI said it has never witnessed in the past that a ruling party openly declared eliminating a popular leader of Pakistan.
Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, becoming the first Pakistani prime minister to be voted out by the National Assembly.