Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Image Credit: Reuters

Islamabad: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif vowed to take legal action against former premier Imran Khan for challenging the Pakistani state, constitution and institutions in a public speech.

Imran Khan has been holding public rallies since he was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote on April 10. The former premier alleged the no-trust vote campaign to oust him was backed by the US since he was pursuing an “independent foreign policy.”

In a speech at a public rally in Abbottabad on Sunday, Imran Khan invoked Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq - two 18th century personalities infamous for conspiracy and treachery in the history subcontinent (Pakistan, India and Bangladesh). Mir Jafar is despised for betraying Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah, the last independent ruler of Bengal (the richest province of the Mughal Empire), playing a decisive role in establishing British rule in India.

Betrayal of Tipu Sultan

Mir Sadiq - who held the post of a minister in the cabinet of the powerful ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan - is hated for betraying Tipu during the Siege of Srirangapatana in 1799, paving the way for a British victory.

Khan did not make it clear if he was referring to the opposition parties or the army or any other institution in his speech.

However, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif described Khan’s address as “a grand conspiracy against Pakistan.” A statement from the prime minister said: “Those concocting a narrative against national institutions were the real Mir Jafar and Mir Sadiq.” Shehbaz Sharif claimed that Imran Khan was not only conspiring against political rivals but against the country, adding that “Pakistan cannot be surrendered or compromised over one person’s ego, arrogance, and blatant lies.”

PM Sharif said legal action would be taken against the “anti-state” speech and comments made against the state of Pakistan, the constitution, and the respected institutions.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan military’s media wing also issued a statement urging journalists and politicians to stop involving the armed forces and its senior leadership in the political discourse via “direct, insinuated or nuanced references to the armed forces as well as their senior leaders.”

“This practice of unsubstantiated, defamatory and provocative statements /remarks is extremely damaging,” the statement said.