- Protests erupt in other cities
- President Alvi says concerned about the 'safety and dignity of Imran Khan'
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders on Tuesday gave a call for a nationwide protest after a heavy contingent of police arrived in Zaman Park in Lahore to arrest party chief Imran Khan in relation to the Toshakhana case.
While the arrest was not yet made till late on Tuesday night, multiple cities had erupted with protests with party supporters gathering in droves to condemn the police operation against Imran.
In Karachi, PTI workers were reportedly staging protests at Shaheen Complex, Teen Talwar, Rashid Minhas Road, Sohrab Goth, Board Office, Qayoomabad, Star Gate, and other places.
In Peshawar, the party workers were protesting at the Peshawar Press Club.
In Islamabad, PTI workers blocked Tarnol Road. Following the road closure, the capital police took action and reopened it for traffic.
“A case has been registered in Tarnol Police Station against the PTI workers who blocked the road on the orders of Imran Khan,” police said.
Expressing his concern over the developments, President Dr Arif Alvi said he was “deeply saddened by today’s events.”
Terming the development “unhealthy revenge politics,” he said: “Poor priorities of govt of a country that should focus on the economic misery of the people.”
“Are we destroying the political landscape?” he asked.
“Am concerned about the safety & dignity of Imran Khan like that of all politicians,” he added.
After dusk, anti-riots police sprung into action and arrested a few PTI workers. Police was expected to attempt to enter Zaman Park residence. Law enforcement also demanded additional officers.
Earlier, PTI workers clashed with law enforcement that retaliated with baton charging, water cannons and tear gas shelling. Protesters hurled stones on police and attacked them with sticks.
In a video message from inside his residence in Zaman Park, where earlier it was reported Imran held a meeting with senior party leaders to determine a course of action, the former prime minister told supporters the “police thinks that protesters will sleep as soon as I am arrested but you have to prove them wrong”.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said Imran’s arrest warrant has been challenged in the Islamabad High Court.
Amid reports that Islamabad DIG Operations Shahzad Bukhari sustained injuries in the clashes, the spokesperson of Islamabad Capital Police tweeted that DIG Operations and SP are doing well.
“Punjab Police is providing full support to Islamabad Capital Police,” he said. “Legal action will be taken against those obstructing the court orders.”
A convoy of Islamabad police reached Zaman Park earlier on Tuesday to arrest him in the Toshakhana case. It was being assisted by Lahore police.
Law enforcement detained multiple party workers while many police officers were injured in the clashes. The police baton-charged on protesters besides using water cannons and tear gas. In response, the protesters pelted stones at police vehicles. Police also tore down the camps of PTI workers on the premises.
Law enforcement also reportedly called additional police force and water cannons to Zaman Park.
Imran Khan’s message
In a video message posted on Twitter, Imran told his supporters that “police thinks that protesters will sleep as soon as I am arrested but you have to prove them wrong”.
“You have to stand up for your rights and freedom. If they kill me, you have to show that you will stand for your rights without me.”
Fawad gives call for nationwide protest
PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry called upon PTI supporters throughout Pakistan to protest peacefully “wherever they are and record and show solidarity with Imran Khan”.
He said PTI organisations should play a role in making this protest peaceful and announce the venues for protests
Non-bailable arrest warrant
On Monday, a district and sessions court rejected Imran’s exemption application and upheld the non-bailable arrest warrants issued for him in the Toshakhana case over his persistent absence in the case hearings.
A warrant was also issued against him in a case related to remarks made about additional sessions Judge, Islamabad, Zeba Chaudhry. However on Tuesday the court suspended this warrant and barred police from arresting the former prime minister till March 16.
Speaking to Aaj News on Tuesday, PTI’s Hassan Niazi confirmed that a warrant had been issued against Imran in the Toshakhana case. He cautioned the law enforcement agencies against creating unrest.
According to Aaj News, Islamabad police representative Shehzad Bukhari confirmed that police arrived to arrest Imran.
He also said that “law enforcement will leave no stone unturned to fulfil court’s order. Court warrants are outstanding against Imran.”
When asked where the police will take Imran after arresting him, he said “let us first arrest him first and then we will inform the media”.
“We expect people to cooperate with the officials in this regard,” he said.
In a tweet, PTI urged party workers to gather outside Zaman Park following which a large crowd accumulated outside Imran’s residence.
PTI challenges arrest warrant in IHC
In a tweet, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that “Imran’s arrest warrant in the Toshakhana case has been challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC)”.
“There is a possibility that the hearing will begin after some time,” he said. “Shibli Faraz and Barrister Gohar have reached the Islamabad High Court.”
Want to resolve issue through talks: Shah Mahmood Qureshi
Addressing media outside Zaman Park, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said “we want to remain peaceful and we do not want bloodshed”.
“I want to read the warrant first and then I will talk to Imran who will discuss the matter with his legal team,” he said. “We want to resolve the issue through talks and discussions.”
Imran has secured protective bail hence he cannot be arrested, he said.
He warned law enforcement not to create an environment of terror.
He also asked them to stop the use of tear gas and water cannon.
“This is an attempt to sabotage PTI’s upcoming rally on Sunday and we understand the tactics of the government,” he said.
Arrest attempt on March 5
Police had also tried to arrest Imran on March 5 in the Toshakhana case.
At the time, when the police arrived, Imran’s Chief of Staff Senator Shibli Faraz received the warrant for the PTI chief’s arrest and informed the police that the former prime minister was not at Zaman Park.
Addressing party workers outside his Lahore residence afterward, the former premier said that he had never “bowed before any man or institution, and will never let you do so as well”.
The PTI chief said that he had called party workers to Zaman Park to pay tribute to them for the way they participated in the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’.