Live: LEAs pull back as LHC stops operation at Zaman Park
LAHORE: Police and other law enforcers pulled back from former premier Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence on Wednesday, putting a halt to clashes that had erupted after police tried to arrest the PTI chairman in the Toshakhana case.
More contingents in the wee hours of Wednesday reached PTI Chairman Imran Khan s Zaman Park residence — where a stand-off between party supporters and law enforcers has been going on for more than 20 hours — for the former prime minister s arrest in the Toshakhana case.
A tense situation prevailed in Lahore on Wednesday morning as police made a fresh attempt to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan. Many PTI supporters have been taken into custody from around Zaman Park during Wednesday clashes.
Subsequently, celebrations erupted at Zaman Park, where PTI supporters cheered “chasing the Rangers away”.
شدید شیلنگ کے باوجود عمران خان زمان پارک کارکنوں کے درمیان موجود#زمان_پارک_پُہنچو pic.twitter.com/Hoz3ASgzyE
— Tehreek-e-Insaf (@InsafPK) March 15, 2023
Earlier, the official PTI Twitter handle stated that open firing had begun by the Rangers and police with Imran’s residence under “extreme attack”.
Open firing by Rangers and Police. Zaman Park is under extreme attack!! Everyone must reach asap!! #زمان_پارک_پُہنچو pic.twitter.com/T18KWz6sI3
— PTI (@PTIofficial) March 15, 2023
The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers and supporters on Tuesday night took control of Zaman Park Lahore following an hours-long face-off with police, who arrived to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan.
IHC reserves verdict on Imran’s arrest warrants
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Wednesday reserved its verdict on Imran Khan s petition seeking the cancellation of his arrest warrants in the Toshakhana case.
The party had filed the petition after police and PTI workers had come face to face outside Zaman Park a day earlier. IHC Chief Justice Aamer Farooq took up the petition filed by the PTI legal team.
At the outset of hearing, the IHC judge asked Imran s counsel, Khawaja Haris Ahmed, if he had addressed all the objections previously raised on the petition.
عمران خان کی وارنٹ منسوخی کی درخواست پر فیصلہ محفوظ کرلیا گیا#ARYNews #imrankhan pic.twitter.com/Xcq6zvTEvy
— ARY NEWS (@ARYNEWSOFFICIAL) March 15, 2023
Haris said that the court had directed the PTI chief to appear before the court on March 13 however he was unable to do so.
“What happened to our earlier order?” asked the IHC chief justice, adding that the court would examine the possible repercussions of not implementing its orders.
Justice Farooq replied: “It s all because of you. The court had provided a respectable path which was not followed.”
During the proceeding, Imran s counsel presented an affidavit signed by Imran and urged the judge to suspend the arrest warrants issued for his client.
“Whether it was a civil court or a trial court, one must show respect to the court,” the IHC chief justice remarked.
Justice Farooq then remarked that a political party s workers were attacking the police, adding that it was an attack on the state.
The court then reserved the verdict.
A local court in the federal capital issued Imran’s arrest warrants and ordered the police to arrest Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case once again over his non-appearance.
Real intent is to abduct and assassinate
After the deployment of Rangers, the PTI chairman, in a series of tweets today, claimed that the “real intent is to abduct and assassinate him” as the police have “now resorted to live firing”.
“From tear gas & water cannons, they have now resorted to firing. I signed a surety bond last evening, but the DIG refused to even entertain it. There is no doubt of their mala fide intent,” he said.
Clearly “arrest” claim was mere drama because real intent is to abduct & assassinate. From tear gas & water cannons, they have now resorted to live firing. I signed a surety bond last evening, but the DIG refused to even entertain it. There is no doubt of their mala fide intent. pic.twitter.com/5LZtZE8Ies
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2023
After our workers & ldrship faced police onslaught since yesterday morning of tear gas, cannons with chemical water, rubber bullets & live bullets this morning; we now have Rangers taking over & are now in direct confrontation with the people. My question to the Establishment,
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2023
In another video shared on PTI s Twitter account in the wee hours of Wednesday, the PTI chief said that his arrest was part of the “London plan”.
The former prime minister also claimed that in order to “avoid anarchy”, he had signed an undertaking and his counsel Ishtiaq A Khan tried presenting the surety to the Islamabad police deputy inspector general (DIG) sent to arrest him.
اپنی قوم کے لئے میرا پیغام!pic.twitter.com/Dv3i9X0S1J
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 14, 2023
Alleged audio of Yasmin Rashid, Ijaz Shah emerges
Another audio recording, purportedly that of former Punjab health minister Dr Yasmin Rashid and former interior minister, Ijaz Shah has emerged.
In the leaked audio clip, the woman believed to be Yasmin Rashid can purportedly be heard discussing the possible arrest of Imran Khan with another PTI leader Brig (r) Ijaz Shah.
In the audio, Dr Yasmin could be heard telling Ijaz that she had just talked to party Chairman Imran Khan, who had asked her to tell the party s each and every ex-MNA and ex-MPA to rush to his Zaman Park residence along with workers.
To which, the former interior minister replies: “We are doing it”.
Later, she can allegedly be heard stating that any ex-MNA, or ex-MPA failing to reach Imran Khan s residence would not be awarded a ticket for the next elections.
Schools, colleges to remain closed
The district administration announced on Wednesday that all educational institutions would remain closed on account of the prevailing law and order situation in the city.
A notification to this effect was also issued by Lahore Commissioner Ali Randhawa.
“All public and private educational institutions will remain closed in Garhi Shahu, Jail Road, Mall Road and Mian Mir,” the notification read.
Zaman park operation
Islamabad police team on Tuesday reached Lahore to arrest Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan after a district and sessions court issued his non-bailable arrest warrants for failing to attend the hearing in Toshakhana reference.
The court of ADSJ Zafar Iqbal restored non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran in the Toshakhana reference. It instructed the police to arrest the PTI chief and present him in court by March 18.
In a statement, the Islamabad police spokesperson said that they have reached Lahore to arrest PTI chief on court orders. Later, party workers and police officials clashed outside his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
The Islamabad police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse PTI workers gathered outside party chief Imran Khan s Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
Imran Khan s arrest to deepen prevailing crisis
Former US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad has warned that the arrest of Imran Khan will deepen the crises being faced by the country.
Taking to Twitter, the former US special representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation pointed out that Pakistan was facing a triple crisis – political, economic, and security.
The sequential cannibalizing of its leaders through jailing, execution, assassination, etc. is the wrong path. Arresting Imran Khan will only deepen the crisis. I urge 2 steps: 1. Set a date for national elections in early June to avert a meltdown.
— Zalmay Khalilzad (@realZalmayMK) March 14, 2023
“Despite great potential, it is underperforming and falling far behind its archrival, India,” Zalmay Khalilzad said, adding that it was time for serious “soul-searching, bold thinking, and strategising”.
Giving his thoughts, he said that the sequential cannibalising of its leaders through jailing, execution, assassination is the wrong path. “Arresting Imran Khan will only deepen the crisis,” he also noted.
Imran Khan’s message
In a video message shared on Twitter on Tuesday, the PTI chief urged the nation to stand resolute and fight for Haqeeqi Azadi (real freedom) and rule of law .
Imran Khan noted that the government believes the nation will not react if he gets arrested, urging the party workers and supporters to prove the incumbent rulers wrong .
My message to the nation to stand resolute and fight for Haqeeqi Azadi & rule of law. pic.twitter.com/bgVuOjsmHG
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 14, 2023
“You [the nation] have to prove that we are a living nation”, the former premier said, asking the nation to continue its struggle for real freedom and come out of their houses. He further said that he will continue to fight for the supremacy of Rule of Law.
Emergency committee formed
Meanwhile, the PTI Chairman has constituted a six-member emergency committee to overlook party matters in case of arrest.
The six-member committee – constituted to overlook party matters – included PTI vice chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Senator Saifullah Niazi, Senator Azam Swati, Ijaz Chaudhy, Murad Saeed and Ali Amin Gandapur.
The emergency committee will overlook the matters if Imran Khan gets arrested, as per a statement issued by the political party.
Protests in Karachi
As soon as the news of the police action at Lahore s Zaman Park spread, a number of people came out on streets and blocked Karachi s Maripur Road and other areas.
Protest demonstrations were also staged in the densely populated neighbourhood near Haderi Market, Star Gate and Teen Talwar.
Protest has been started by #PTI in different areas of karachi. Roads closed for traffic..
Five star chorangi
Four k chorangi
Quidabad dawood chorangi
Korangi industrial area road pic.twitter.com/KMCLc21baw
— shahmir khan (@shahmir52_khan) March 14, 2023
Similar scenes were witnessed at Shaheen Complex, Rashid Minhas Road, and Sohrab Goth where a number of people blocked the roads for vehicular traffic.
The PTI workers also staged protests at Nazimabad Board Office, 4K Chowrangi, Hub River Road, Bacha Khan Chowk, Banaras Chowk, Kemari, Lyari and Daud Chowrangi.
While reacting to the reports of the arrest, PTI leader Hammad Azhar on Sunday afternoon called all party workers to reach Zaman Park in Lahore and remain peaceful.
رجیم بوکھلہ چکی ہے۔ ظل شاہ کی شہادت، کل کی شاندار ریلی اور شریف، زرداری خاندان کی توشہ خانہ تفصیلات عام ہونے کے بعد ان کے ہاتھ پیر پھول گئے ہیں اور یہ تصادم چاہتے ہیں۔ کارکنان فوراً زمان پارک پہنچیں اور پرامن رہیں۔ pic.twitter.com/fPMYuSgDa8
— Hammad Azhar (@Hammad_Azhar) March 14, 2023
Another PTI leader Farrukh Habib also called on the party workers to reach Zaman Park.
عمران خان کی جان کو خطرہ ہے لیکن پس پردہ ایسے حالات پیدا کروائے جارہے جہاں انکی سیکورٹی کمپرومائز کرواکر دوبارہ قاتلانہ حملہ کروایا جائے۔ F8 کچہری میں حاضری کسی death trap سے کم نہیں بار بار وارنٹس ایشو کروائے جارہے اور پولیس جیسے عملدرآمد کررہی وہ سب کو معلوم ہے pic.twitter.com/B7FAl1VFFV
— Farrukh Habib (@FarrukhHabibISF) March 14, 2023
PTI challenges arrest warrants
Meanwhile, Fawad Chaudhry said that the arrest warrants against Imran had been challenged in the Islamabad High Court (IHC). He said that the hearing was expected to be held soon.
اسلام آباد ہائیکورٹ میں توشہ خانہ کیس میں عمران خان کے وارنٹ گرفتاری چیلنج کر دئیے گئے ہیں ، کچھ دیر بعد سماعت کا امکان ہے، شبلی فراز اور بیرسٹر گوہر اسلام آباد ہائیکورٹ پہنچ گئے ہیں
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) March 14, 2023
On March 5, an Islamabad police team was sent to Lahore to arrest Imran with the court summons. However, it returned empty-handed after the PTI chief evaded the arrest.
The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) disqualified former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana reference under Article 63(1)(p).
In the written judgment, the ECP said: “As per the statement of Imran Khan he had purchased the gifts from Toshakhana paying 21.564 million rupees while the Cabinet Division said that the gifts had a value of 107.943 million.”
“The amount in his bank account was around half of the value of the state gifts. Imran Khan was bound to declare the cash and bank details in his returns but he didn t declare it,” ECP decision read.
“Imran Khan being declared disqualified and unseated from his National Assembly seat,” the ECP said, adding: “He has been disqualified under Article 63, 1(P), over submitting a false statement and declaration”.
Read More: Imran Khan disqualified in Toshakhana reference by ECP
The judgement added that the former premier was found to be indulged in corrupt practices under sections 167 and 173 of the constitution. “A criminal proceeding will be initiated against him over filing a false statement.”
“His disqualification under Article 63, 1(P) has been for his current parliament membership”, the ECP said in its 36-page detailed judgment of the reference.
Hassan Hafeez, Abdul Qadir and Khawaja Naseer also contributed to this report