January 9, 2024
ISLAMABAD – Incarcerated PTI chief Imran Khan on Monday said he had verbally dictated his guest essay published in British publication The Economist, which went viral on social media.
Imran was convicted in the Toshakhana case on August 5, and sentenced to three years’ imprisonment. On August 28, the Islamabad High Court had suspended his sentence. However, he has remained in jail since in other cases registered against him.
A guest essay attributed to Imran in The Economist on January 4 indicated that he had serious doubts about whether the upcoming elections would be held or not.
The piece reiterated his allegations about how a regime change brought about after US government pressure led to a vote of no-confidence against him last year and described the May 9 riots as a “false-flag operation” which was “pre-planned”.
But an editor’s note at the end of the essay noted that the Pakistan government and US State Department denied the allegations of American interference, saying that the government was prosecuting him under the Official Secrets Act.
While sources within the party were hesitant to comment on how the writing may have been relayed to the publication from inside prison, they had insisted that the words were indeed those of Imran. Some observers had expressed doubts over whether the article was indeed by Imran but many noted that the tone and content of the article was consistent with his views.
Caretaker Information Minister Murtaza Solangi had subsequently said the government would be writing to the editor of the British publication about the matter.
During a hearing on the Toshakhana and Al-Qadir Trust cases today in Adiala Jail, the PTI founder was questioned by journalists about whether he wrote the essay.
“I own the column published in an international journal. I had given verbal guidelines regarding the column. The article was written and published as a result of these guidelines. I had verbally dictated the article,” Imran told reporters.
The PTI chief did, however, say that it was “the age of artificial intelligence”, adding that next week, a speech of his would also arrive on social media.
Imran could be referring to the party’s upcoming online gathering on social media platform TikTok. PTI social media head Jibran Ilyas said the online “rally” was announced in the party’s telethon on Sunday.
It is to be noted that Imran’s party did use artificial intelligence to campaign from behind bars in December, with a voice clone of his giving an impassioned speech on his behalf during a virtual PTI rally.
Imran, in his exchange with the reporters today, also said that the general elections should be held at any cost, adding that they were very necessary for economic and political stability.
“It has been made difficult for us to contest the elections. Despite that, the polls should happen timely,” he said.
‘Disaster and farce’
In his article for The Economist, while expressing fears that the election scheduled for February 8 may not take place at all, Imran had stated that even if they do, such polls would be a “disaster and a farce since PTI is being denied its basic right to campaign”.
“Whether elections happen or not, the manner in which I and my party have been targeted… has made one thing clear: the establishment — the army, security agencies and the civil bureaucracy — is not prepared to provide any playing field at all, let alone a level one, for PTI,” he said.
Imran also criticised the Pakistan Democratic Government’s performance, saying it “destroyed the economy, bringing about unprecedented inflation and a currency devaluation within 18 months”.
“Unfortunately, the establishment had decided I could not be allowed to return to power, so all means of removing me from the political landscape were used,” he said, recalling “two assassination attempts” and the abduction, incarceration or torture of party leaders, workers and social media activists.
“Some were compelled to join other, newly created political parties. Others were made to give false testimony against me under duress,” he said, yet claiming that despite all this, his party remained popular.
Imran also hit out at the courts, who in his words “seem to be losing credibility daily”, referring to the easy exoneration of PML-N’s Nawaz Sharif.
He alleged that it is his belief that Nawaz “has struck a deal with the establishment whereby it will support his acquittal and throw its weight behind him in the upcoming elections”.