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Imran Khan suffers heavy blow as his base in Gilgit Baltistan comes under attack

Pak Army Chief Gen. Asim Munir (Right) and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif (Left) are upbeat about sidelining ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan

There is disquiet in the mountains as the Chief Minister of the occupied Gilgit Baltistan assembly who belonged to ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf  (PTI) party has been sacked.

The assembly building has been sealed, ruling out possibility of appointing a successor to Khalid Khursheed Khan, the CM, who belonged to the PTI.

Imran Khan has gone ballistic following exit of Khursheed, who he said was an outstanding Chief Minister. The ex-Prime Minister described the CM’s removal a conspiracy of wiping out the PTI from the region.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Gilgit Baltistan Supreme Appellate Court disqualified Khalid Khursheed as the chief minister of the region for allegedly obtaining a fake degree from the University of London.

As pressure mounts from the “establishment” headed by the Chief of Army Staff Gen. Asif Munir, following the May 9 attacks on army and air force installations, Khan is showing greater signs of desperation, fear, and defiance all rolled into one.

On Wednesday night, he called for a national uprising, warning people that they have no future if they do not revolt against state repression and surrender because of fear.

Hinting at blackmail, Khan said he was ready for trial in the military court where he would reveal many things. He also stressed that it was better to die than to live a life of slaves.

Khan’s rebel rousing, went to the next level during his address when he declared that there has been string of attempts to kill him.

He pointed out that attempts to assassinate him in Wazirabad during his long march and a judicial complex are well known. But there have been other attempts on his life including an attempt to engineer a helicopter crash in the mountains of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, using contaminated fuel, among others.

Khan’s vituperative outburst has context. On Wednesday, the police accused the ex-Prime Minister of involvement in the attack on the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, military installations and setting a fire a metro stations, Geo News reported. All these attacks took place on May 9.

New International, citing its sources said joint investigation teams (JITs) are carrying out investigations, after registering six cases under the Anti-terrorism Act.

This is significant as it has been hard to nail Khan in other cases so far.

So far Khan is being questioned on two issues. First, is the Toshkhana case where he is accused of buying gifts that he had received as Prime Minister at throwaway prices. Khan has told his interrogators that he had no role in determining these prices. Instead, his military secretary, was involved in this exercise and is therefore responsible to answer questions raised by National Accountability Bureau (NAB).

Second, Khan has been accused of allowing transfer of funds from UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) into the Supreme Court’s account. This was to pay fines levied by the apex court against a property tycoon in a case related to land encroachment in Karachi. The ex-Prime Minister arguing that no -wrongdoing was involved has said that the NCA and the tycoon had agreed to a settlement by paying 190 million pounds to the British authority, The News International is reporting. It was those funds that were transferred to the Supreme Court’s account as penalty.

With military determined to put Khan on trial, authoritative sources told India Narrative that PM Shahbaz Sharif and the military establishment want Khan to be tried in a military court come what may, and they are in consultation with a senior lawyer. But there is another view that trying Khan in a civilian court may be prudent option as the “establishment” has nearly completed its work on Supreme Court judges to ensure that they do not undermine the case.

Also Read: Pak Army identifies May 9 kingpins, gets set for speedy trials in military courts