BEIJING, CHINA – OCTOBER 9: Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping (not pictured) at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on October 9, 2019 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Parker Song-Pool/Getty Images)
There is a possibility of another assassination attempt on Imran Khan, the Chief Justice of Islamabad High Court said on Friday and asserted that it was the government’s responsibility to take cognisance of the looming threat on the former prime minister.
Chief Justice Aamer Farooq’s remarks came while hearing a petition filed by traders regarding road closures due to the protest staged by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
The judge, quoting intelligence reports submitted to the court, said that there was a possibility of another attack on Khan’s life, the Dawn newspaper reported.
“It is the responsibility of the government and the state to look into the matter,” he said.
Justice Farooq said the PTI should submit a fresh plea to the Islamabad administration seeking permission for its long march, demanding early general election.
“If the issue is not resolved, a fresh petition can also be filed,” he said, adding that it was not the court’s responsibility to allot a place for the sit-in.
“It is the administration’s discretion if they want to give permission for D-Chowk or F-9 park,” he said.
“The same was ordered by the Supreme Court as well,” he said.
Pakistan’s Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition to stop the protest march of Khan by observing that it was a political issue and should be resolved politically.
Chief Justice Farooq said the protest was the democratic right of every political and non-political party, but upholding the rights of common citizens was also important.
“Even in England, people gather at 10 Downing Street. But they protest, not block the streets,” he said.
“When the Supreme Court said they can’t stop the long march, you blocked the GT Road and other motorways,” Justice Farooq told the PTI lawyer, calling on the party to “demonstrate responsibility”.
The hearing was adjourned till November 22.
Khan, 70, survived a gun attack on his convoy while holding a protest march in the eastern city of Wazirabad on November 3. The attack took place as Khan was leading the march, which was meant to end in the capital Islamabad.
The march began on October 28 from Lahore and is on its way towards Islamabad.
The PTI has announced plans to hold a historic power show in the capital and also sought permission for it but the government has not granted it.
Khan was ousted from power in April 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. The US has denied the allegations.
The cricketer-turned-politician, the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament, is seeking fresh general elections.
However, the federal government led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is opposed to holding elections now. The term of the current National Assembly will end in August 2023.
The long march is expected to reach Islamabad in the last week of November. Khan has announced that he will join the long march in Rawalpindi.