LAHORE: Protests broke out in the city on Tuesday on the call of PTI Chairman Imran Khan as police and party workers clashed outside his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
Armoured police vehicles arrived outside Khan’s residence after 2:00pm with the intention of arresting Imran but Deputy Inspector General (Operations) Shahzad Bukhari refrained from commenting on the arrest warrants issued by the sessions court Islamabad in the Toshakhana case.
Amid the chaos, Islamabad DIG (Operations) Shehzad Bukhari, who was leading the police team, was injured and subsequently shifted to Services Hospital for first aid. However, almost an hour later, police used a water cannon and tear gas against PTI supporters who had gathered outside Zaman Park in droves. Police headed toward the residence behind an armoured vehicle dispersing PTI supporters.
The workers, who had covered their faces, continued pelting police with stones. After the sunset, a heavy contingent of Rangers was deployed outside Zaman Park. DIG (Operations) Shahzad Bukhari told reporters that officials had arrived to take the PTI chief into custody as there were outstanding warrants for his arrest. When asked where Imran would be taken if he was arrested, Bukhari said: “Let it first happen, then God willing, we will keep you informed.”
He asserted that police had arrived to serve the lawful process and he expected that others would cooperate with the officials. When asked whether police would take action if the situation descended into chaos, he said: “Yes, of course. If someone takes the law into their hands, we will act in accordance with law.” When asked as to why the capital’s police force had camped out in Lahore for the past week, Bukhari restricted himself to reply that these were procedural details.
Earlier, in his latest video message, Imran Khan said Police have reached Zaman Park to arrest him and added that he is fighting for the people of this country. “I am fighting for people and will continue to do during the rest of his life.” He said people should prove themselves today that they are with the PTI and Imran Khan. He urged the people to come out from their homes for real freedom.
Speaking to media, Vice Chairman PTI Shah Mahmood Qureshi asked the Deputy Inspector General Operations to show him arrest warrants as the PTI believes that Imran Khan is already on a protective bail.
He further said he would discuss the situation with Imran Khan in case DIG (Operations) Shahzad Bukhari takes him into confidence on the arrest warrants. “I will discuss the matter with the party lawyers and try to suggest a way out through mutual consultation,” he added. “Chairman Imran Khan can himself surrender to the Islamabad police,” he said.
Qureshi made it clear that the PTI was determined to stay peaceful and not let the police kill its party workers. He said the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government has lost senses after a successful rally of PTI in the city. They do not want us to hold Minar-e-Pakistan gathering, therefore, they have invaded the peaceful workers of PTI, he said.
He said the PTI was ready to discuss modalities regarding public gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan subject to the negotiations with the district administration. He also criticized the caretaker government of Punjab for playing in the hands of federal government.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023