Govt will certainly try to keep Imran behind bars ‘as long as possible’: Rana Sanaullah

Prime Minister’s Adviser on Political and Public Affairs Rana Sanaullah has given credence to the reports that the federal government is planning to lodge new cases against jailed Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) founder Imran Khan in a bid to delay his release from prison. Khan, the deposed prime minister who was ousted from power via the opposition’s no-confidence motion in April 2022, has been facing a slew of charges ranging from corruption to terrorism since his removal as the premier. After securing relief in other cases including £190 million reference and Toshakhana, the former premier was acquitted in the cipher case earlier this month but he remains behind bars due to his conviction in the iddat case. The PTI founder has been behind bars since August last year after he was sentenced in the Toshakhana case and subsequently sentenced in other cases ahead of the February 8 elections. “Imran Khan’s main agenda is to destabilise the country and spread chaos and anarchy in the country that’s why the government will certainly try to keep him behind bars as long as possible,” the PM’s adviser said while speaking on private TV channel programme on Tuesday. He stated this while responding to a question on reports that the government was planning to delay the release of the PTI founder as the courts granted him relief in several cases. The district and sessions court will announce the reserved verdict on PTI founder and his wife Bushra Bibi’s pleas seeking suspension of their sentence in the iddat case on June 27 (Thursday) at 3pm. After his government was toppled via a no-trust motion in April 2022, Sanaullah said the PTI founder “boycotted” parliament and launched the agitation movement against the government. “Persistently he has only one agenda — spread anarchy and mischief in the country, hence for the betterment of the country he [Imran Khan] should be kept behind bars.” The PM’s adviser said the government would use all legal means including registration of new cases to delay the release of the PTI founder. Responding to a question, Sanaullah said the government will not keep the PTI founder in jail “forcefully” and all steps will be taken in line with the Constitution and law. Like the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), the PM’s aide said the PTI also got a public mandate in the general elections. However, he said the PTI founder violated the mandate by staging “violent” protests including “attacks on courts” and allegedly orchestrating the May 9 riots. Despite this, Sanaullah said “no storm will come” if the PTI founder managed to walk free from the prison. He urged the PTI founder to come forward to hold talks with political rivals in a democratic way saying the Nawaz-led party has no personal grudge against him. He then said that the ousted premier did not believe in political dialogue and democracy. Sanaullah added that even if Mahmood Khan Achakzai — mediator nominated by the PTI-backed opposition alliance, Tehreek-e-Tahafuz Ayeen (TTAP) — takes a step forward then Imran will immediately seize his mandate to hold negotiations. The politico said there was no option other than holding dialogue to settle disputes.