Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan has urged the country’s top judiciary to take suo motu notice of the alleged abuse, including “reports of rape”, of its female party workers and supporters who were arrested following the May 9 riots. The former prime minister’s allegations come hours after Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah claimed in a hurriedly called press conference on Sunday that intelligence agencies had intercepted a call revealing a plot to stage a fake encounter and rape incident by members of the PTI. The minister claimed that among the plans revealed during the intercepted call was a plot to raid and open fire at a PTI worker’s house, resulting in casualties that could be shown to the world as gross human rights violations. The second plan was to stage an act of rape, the recording of which would be shared with the global media outlets to propagate the alleged abuse against PTI. The interior minister did not reveal the characters involved in the intercepted call during his news conference, and neither did the PTI chairman mention the names of the victims of the alleged abuse during his video message. But Imran said he was convinced of the reports of the kind of treatment being meted out to the party’s women workers in jail. After [Rana Sanaullah’s] press conference, I have no doubt. The PTI women workers, the way they were detained and thrown in jail, and the way they were being treated…we also heard [reports] of rape,” said Imran while addressing PTI supporters from his Zaman Park residence in Lahore. The PTI chief claimed that the interior minister’s statements could only mean two things. “Either they are afraid that these women, when they are released, will tell the stories of what happened to them, and [the government is] preparing for this scenario. Or that they are scared they have done something they cannot manage, so they want to preemptively create a narrative that this was all a big conspiracy and PTI did this themselves”. Imran Khan stated that he was getting reports of abuse from various locations. However, he added that such reports did not mention Adiala Jail but the female workers were being kept in deplorable conditions and the judiciary must take notice of the situation. Imran termed the developments as a deliberate plan to depoliticise women and exclude them from participating in politics. He highlighted the oppressive treatment faced by detained female workers and suggested that it aims to discourage women from engaging in political activities. The PTI chief stressed the significance of including 50% of the population in politics and commended his party for fostering an environment where women can freely participate in rallies without hindrance. Imran emphasised the crucial role of an independent judiciary in safeguarding democracy. He contrasted the pre-lawyer’s movement era, where the judiciary typically aligned with the government’s narrative, with the present circumstances. The former premier asserted that Pakistan lacked fundamental rights today, citing the disappearance of journalists and the neglect of court orders as evidence. He highlighted instances of PTI leaders reportedly leaving the party, attributing their decisions to threats targeting their families and businesses. “Even those abroad, who simply express their opinions on social media, face repercussions involving their families,” he added. Calling on the judiciary, Imran reminded them of the nation’s struggle for democracy and urged them to take a firm stance against the violation of PTI’s fundamental rights. He appealed to the judiciary to uphold its responsibility of protecting democracy, expressing concerns about a perceived reluctance to confront the “powerful”. “The nation will remember role of the judiciary. It seems that you are conceding power in front of the ‘powerful’. It seems you are unable to take a stand because, every single day, fundamental rights are being tarnished.” PTI chief acknowledged the right to peaceful demonstrations and clarified that any violence that occurred on May 9 should be addressed appropriately. While acknowledging the need for action against those involved in violent acts, Imran underscored the importance of preserving democratic values. “It was their (women workers’) right to hold peaceful protests. Obviously, the protest had to be staged in front of GHQ. However, those who were involved in violence, action should be taken against them. This action is not against PTI but against democracy itself,” he added. The PTI chief underscored that the responsibility of investigating and apprehending the culprits of May 9 lies with the courts, saying that an inquiry should be conducted on the elements involved. He assured the top court of the PTI’s full cooperation in the inquiry, urging it to punish the individuals found guilty of instigating violence. The ex-prime minister raised concerns about the loss of 25 lives due to indiscriminate firing and questioned the absence of investigations into these incidents. He expressed astonishment that peaceful protests could be met with gunfire without subsequent inquiries. In a message directed at the ruling PDM coalition, Imran told the government to poach as many PTI members as it could in the next three to four weeks, but urged it to announce elections after that. “If you want to take two or three weeks then break away as many people as you want. Given the current trajectory, countless have already distanced themselves, and many more are likely to follow suit.” The PTI chairman appealed to the government for a defined timeframe for elections as the country was heading towards destruction.