Former interior minister Sheikh Rashid on Thursday said that people should not blame the Pakistan Army for the ouster of former premier Imran Khan from the government.
Rashid made the remarks during an interview in Islamabad with a private TV channel, wherein he asserted that the "army is the most prestigious and sensitive institution of the country".
"The plan of the international forces [to undermine Imran Khan] has turned on its heels and Imran has emerged as the most prominent leader," he said.
Rashid, who also heads the Awami Muslim League (AML), expressed fears of a potential civil war leading to bloodshed in the upcoming long march of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI).
On April 30, PTI Chairman Imran announced that his party would hold a long march to Islamabad in the last week of May against an “imported government” that was imposed on the country in cahoots with foreign powers.
"The long march could be frightening, alarming and serious. If the situation worsens, Imran Khan will not be able to stop it," the former minister warned. "People have now made it a matter of national honour and self-determination."
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He added that the current government was stuck in a hard place as it was brought into power with only a majority of two votes in its favour.
"If anyone from [the] MQM, BAP, GDA or any other group disassociates itself with this government, then it would end. It is a slave government that is lying on the floor. It will do as it is told," he said.
Rashid added that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is a 'boot licker'.
"Shehbaz in [the] 90s used to polish boots and is compromised. He has no prestige and value. I urge the whole nation to prepare for general elections," he said.
Rashid Shafiq's physical remand
Talking about his nephew, Rashid Shafiq, who was sent on a two-day physical remand by the district court in Attock on May 2, the former interior minister said that no one could prove that Shafiq was at the location at the time when the slogans were raised against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leadership in Saudi Arabia.
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Shafiq was taken into custody on Sunday at the Islamabad Airport when an FIR was lodged against him and former ruling party PTI leaders in Faisalabad over the recent incident of pilgrims surrounding PM Shehbaz's delegation in Masjid-e-Nabwi and shouting slogans.
"The PML-N only registered an FIR against him [Shafiq] when they found out that he was proven innocent in a probe by Saudi authorities and after he had boarded the aircraft to return to Pakistan," he claimed.