'Pak govt trying to eliminate PTI party': Imran Khan

Khan also accused the govt of trying to score 'technical knockout' against him

imran-khan-press-afp Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan at his residence in Lahore | AFP

Embattled former prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday accused the PML-N-led coalition government of trying to score a "technical knockout" against him and eliminate his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party ahead of elections.

"Efforts to eliminate PTI have been under way for over a year now. But all what they are doing is just strengthening the party," Khan told a group of journalists in Lahore at his Zaman Park residence which has been surrounded by Punjab police.

Stating that what the government is doing has never been seen before in the history of the country, 70-year-old Khan said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government is trying to score a "technical knockout" against him to disqualify his party from contesting elections.

"My arrest... they want to eliminate me and ban the PTI... all this is a part of the London plan," Khan alleged.

"Where Pakistan is standing today, except for free and fair elections, any route you take will lead to its destruction," he said. "The only way out of this swamp are free and fair elections."

Khan has been demanding early national elections since his ouster in April last year after he lost a confidence vote in Parliament.

The current term of the National Assembly will complete its five-year term in August this year. The election commission is preparing to hold general elections by October.

Khan also demanded an independent probe into May 9 riots, claiming that there was an organised conspiracy behind the violence following his arrest in a corruption case.

"Everything was planned. So, I demand that an independent commission is constituted. And let me tell you what will be revealed after its probe. We will give you evidence - how people were made to attack as part of a plan," he said.

On May 9, violent protests erupted after the arrest of Khan. His party workers vandalised a dozen military installations, including the Jinnah House (Lahore Corps Commander house), Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time.

Police put the death toll in violent clashes to 10 while Khan's party claims 40 of its workers lost their lives in the firing by security personnel.

Khan said there is a plan formed to pit his party against the army. "Their plan is to eliminate the PTI through the army,” Khan claimed.

"The PDM is behind this and it is very dangerous for the country," he said. "They can't compete with us in elections and now they want to pit us against the army."

The PDM mostly comprises political parties in the ruling coalition, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N).

Khan also slammed the police action at his residence in his absence, saying his wife was alone at home when an armoured personnel carrier stormed into the house with over 40 policemen.

The police in March had stormed the Zaman Park residence of Khan to arrest him but strong resistance of his party workers thwarted that plan.

Khan's remarks came as a large number of Punjab police personnel surrounded his house and may launch a security operation any time to arrest the "terrorists" allegedly holed up in his residence as the government's 24-hour deadline to hand them over expired.

He 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.

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