LEAs strategically retreat for PSL 8 match after fierce clashes with PTI workers at Zaman Park
Tear gas shelling took place and police sealed off all roads leading to Khan's residence
LAHORE (Dunya News) – Law-enforcement agencies (LEAs), especially police, strategically retreated after a fresh round of clashes erupted between protesters and law enforcers on Wednesday after another attempt is being made to arrest PTI Chairman Imran Khan to implement arrest warrants issued by an Islamabad court in the Toshakhana case over no show-up.
The decision to take a pause has been taken to ensure smooth conduct of the Pakistan Super League playoff match at Gaddafi Stadium.
Earlier in the day, a heavy contingent of police and rangers advanced towards the residence of the former premier in Zaman Park, with party workers and supporters pelting them with stones. In reaction, the security officials fired tear gas shells to disperse them while water cannons were also part of the operation.
The capital city of Punjab has seen violent since Tuesday when a team of the Islamabad police, with a backup of Punjab police and rangers, tried to take the defiant politician into custody. More than 60 people, including the DIG Operations of Islamabad police, have been injured in the clashes.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan has, in an indirect message, urged the Establishment to take stock of the situation and shed neutrality. In a tweet, he wrote: “My house has been under heavy attack since yesterday afternoon. Latest attack by Rangers, pitting the largest pol[itical] party against the army. This is what PDM and the enemies of Pakistan want. No lessons learnt from the East Pakistan tragedy”.
My house has been under heavy attack since yesterday afternoon. Latest attack by Rangers, pitting the largest pol party against the army. This is what PDM and the enemies of Pakistan want. No lessons learnt from the East Pakistan tragedy. pic.twitter.com/SBcrCcYEo5— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2023
PTI workers and law eforcers engage in clashes since Tuesday
Imran Khan says 'My house has been under heavy attack'
More than 60 people including party workers and police personnel injured
PTI chief urges Establishment to take stock of the situation and shed neutrality
Police accuse protesters of pelting stones and petrol bomb
Ex-PM moves IHC and LHC against police operation at Zaman Park
The PTI shared a video on its Twitter handle, showing Imran Khan meeting his party workers and encouraging them as they are hell-bent on blocking his arrest.
— Bakhtawar Gillani (@BakhtawarGillni) March 15, 2023
The former prime minister was ousted from office by a no-confidence vote last year, and has been snarled in a series of legal cases, including Toshakhana as he calls for early elections in the country.
Police Fought Pitched Battles With PTI Supporters Throughout the Night
Police fought pitched battles with supporters of the PTI near his Zaman Park residence throughout the night, firing fusillades of teargas and dodging stones thrown by angry crowds.
Speaking to reporters, DIG Operations of Islamabad police, Shahzad Bokhari, who was clad in riot gear, said the team had arrived to arrest the PTI chief. He said police had warrants for the arrest of Imran Khan who failed to appear before the court. Reports said the DIG was injured amid the police's clash with the PTI activists who pelted stones. He was later shifted to the hospital for treatment. Several other policemen were injured and taken to the Services Hospital for treatment. Police also took into custody scores of assailants.
Punjab government also called Rangers to Mr Khan's residence. Senior officers of the Lahore police and personnel also made it to Zaman Park to effectively tackle the mob. A helicopter flew over the area for aerial surveillance in the evening.
Imran Khan issued a video shortly before dawn, sitting in front of Pakistan and PTI flags at a desk decorated with spent teargas canisters.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 14, 2023
"I am telling the entire nation today that they are ready once again, they're going to come again," he said.
"They will teargas our people and do other such things, but you should know that they have no justification to do so."
Shehbaz Sharif Denies Role in Attempts to Arrest Khan
In a TV interview broadcast on Tuesday night, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif denied his government was behind attempts to arrest the PTI chief.
The courts have issued the arrest warrants, not by the government, Mr Sharif said, when asked if Khan’s arrest would trigger political instability. “If the [Punjab] administration does not follow the court’s orders then what will happen?” he questioned.
IHC Takes Up Khan’s Petition Against Warrants Shortly
Islamabad High Court (IHC) Chief Justice Aamer Farooq is set to hear a petition filed by Imran Khan, seeking cancellation of arrest warrants issued by the district and sessions court in the Toshakhana case.
A day earlier, the high court rejected his plea for early hearing of his appeal when his lawyer Intazar Hussain Panjutha submitted it, seeking relief after a heavy contingent of police reached Lahore to arrest Imran Khan.
On Monday, Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal restored the arrest warrants issued against the PTI chief after he skipped the indictment for the fourth time. The judge turned down his exemption plea and ordered the authorities to produce the suspect before court on March 18.
Last week, the IHC suspended the non-bailable arrest warrants issued against the former PM by Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal in the graft case related to the purchase and sale of gifts from the Toshakhana till March 13.
IHC chief justice Aamer Farooq accepted Khan's plea against judge's decision and directed the PTI chairman to ensure that he appears or March 13 before the trial court that had issued the arrest warrants.
Last year, a reference was filed against him by lawmakers from the ruling coalition accusing him of not sharing the details of gifts he retained from Toshakhana in his assets declarations and the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had concluded in October last year that the PTI chief filed false statements regarding the gifts.
The electoral watchdog subsequently, disqualified him for being dishonest and corrupt and approached the district and sessions court seeking criminal proceedings Imran Khan for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts.