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Wednesday, June 07, 2023  
18 Dhul-Qadah 1444  

PTI warns of mass protests as police fails to arrest Imran

Rana Sanaullah says court orders must be carried out

Story highlights

  • Islamabad police stop short of arresting Imran Khan. The police deliver notice
  • Police, with the cooperation of Lahore police, want to arrest Imran in the Toshakhana case
  • But, a large number of PTI supporters gathered outside Zaman Park
  • Fawad Chaudhry warns of mass protests if Imran is arrested
  • Shah Mahmood Qureshi hints at building bridges, however, refuses to compromise on “core principles”
  • PTI to make a decision after consulting legal and party leadership
  • Imran describes the country under Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif as a “banana republic”
  • Police are still in Zaman Park

Federal government repeats arrest orders

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has ordered IG Punjab to ensure that court orders are carried out regarding the arrest of Imran Khan.

The IG told the minister that the arrest could not be carried out on Sunday due to’resistance’ by PTI workers, despite support provided by Lahore police.

Uncertainty surrounded the possibility of PTI Chairman Imran Khan being arrested hours after the police first approached Zaman Park.

Islamabad police’s Twitter account posted at 2:28 pm that the team sent to arrest Imran Khan was still present at Zaman Park.

The contingent of police is armed with a water cannon with riot police also ready to help in dispersing the PTI protestors who have gathered.

A special plane has also been put on stand-by at the Lahore airport to shift Imran Khan to Islamabad if needed.

The police also said that it was wrongly told by PTI leaders that Imran Khan was not present at his residence. It also said there would be action against Shibli Faraz for creating the false impression of the PTI chairman’s absence.

The police said that after the assurances by PTI leaders, it is expected that Imran Khan would present hismelf in court.

Imran makes speech

As police butted heads with workers outside his residence, Imran Khan addressed workers released from the jail bharo movement inside Zaman Park.

He repeated claims that Shehbaz Sharif, Asif Zardari and Rana Snaullah were conspiring to kill him and said he would write to the chief justice about the threats to his life.

He also said the government could put his name on the Exit Control List if it wanted since he has no intention of leaving the country.

PTI warns of protest

The Imran Khan-led party has warned of mass protests if the chairman was arrested. The Islamabad police stopped short of making such an attempt when they reached his residence at Zaman Park, Lahore on Sunday. It left after delivering a notice in the Toshakhana case. But they are still there, and so are many supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

“We have received the notice but nowhere it does not mention anything about arrests,” PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters outside the residence. He was accompanied by party leader Fawad Chaudhry.

The development, which was also apparently attempted in the past, comes a day after Imran addressed his party workers for the election campaign. The Punjab Assembly is set to hold elections on April 30. The PTI called upon its supporters to reach Zaman Park, fearing that Imran would be arrested.

The PTI has decided to consult their legal team at 2:30pm today (Sunday) and then decide their next line of action.

He confirmed that the police had come in relation to the Toshakhana case before advising party workers to “don’t panic”. But, he called for being “vigilant”.

The former foreign minister rebuffed the police’s allegations that Imran “pick and choose” with the courts. He rejected such allegations by quoting past efforts of Imran when he apologised to a female judge for his remarks and decision to “forgive people for the sake of the country”.

“The only reason is security,” he added to a query on apparently skipping hearings of cases.

The district and sessions court issued arrest warrants for Imran in the Toshakhana Reference on February 28 after the accused failed to appear in front of the court. The former premier’s lawyer had an exemption for his client because he had to appear in several other courts. His indictment was deferred twice before.

The court had adjourned the hearing till March 7.

Imran Khan has “always respected the law and courts,” Qureshi claimed, adding that the former prime minister appeared in front of the court despite taking security risks.

‘No problem’

“No problem,” Qureshi said when asked about reports that the inspector general of police has ordered the superintendent of police to arrest Imran at all costs, preparations have been made at the airport, and a police contingent has arrived at the Mall Road, and further attempts will be made to arrest the former premier.

Rumours are rife that the police would make another attempt on Sunday night to arrest the PTI chief.

“They should continue with their thinking and strategy,” he added. The senior PTI leader reiterated that the PTI would discuss with their lawyers and the party’s political leadership and the leaders would again address the media after that.

He stressed that there would be a “political reaction” to the police’s attempt. According to Qureshi, Imran’s life was in danger. “It is possible that an assassination attempt was being planned. In order to save our leadership we have readied our preparations,” he said.

He mentioned Imran’s Saturday speech in which the former premier decided to “forgive” his attackers, who were involved in an assassination attempt back in November last year.

“You have to change your tone and review your actions. You have to change your thinking. You have to review your decisions even if you have to fight terrorism,” he said in a veiling reference to the ruling coalition. The former ruling party claims that the incumbent government was “imported”.

He hinted that the party was open to building bridges, however, clarified that it would not compromise on its core principles.

He alleged that the government was making such attempts in order to run away from the elections. “Tomorrow [Monday], the KP governor has to give a date at every cost and if he does not then it will be contempt of court,” he said, “they [PDM] are rudderless and the PTI is calm and composed, and respectful, and law. We will fight legally.”

Mass protests

Fawad Chaudhry has warned of countrywide “peaceful protests” if Imran Khan was arrested.

“So far 74 cases are registered against Imran and 34 are criminal. It is not possible for any human to appear in every such cases,” he said standing alongside Qureshi.

According to Fawad, any attempt to take Imran into custody would further jeopardise the situation. He accused the government of tottering economy, Constitution, and law and order. “Their main purpose is leading the country to chaos and stop elections.”

On the police’s order, he said that the party has already written to the court that their party chief would comply with the court order.

“No one has appeared more than Imran Khan in courts,” he said and without naming Nawaz Sharif, wondered why the court was not summoning the person sitting in London and commenting on Pakistan while sitting at restaurants.

He alleged that the government wanted to instigate the PTI workers by such attempts. “They are ready. These are attempts to kill Imran via terrorists. [Punjab’s interim CM] Mohsin Naqvi and [PM] Shehbaz Sharif are two sides of the same coin.”

Not a difficult task to arrest Imran: Sanaullah

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has claimed that it was not a difficult task to arrest Imran Khan.

“If the court order comes then Imran Khan will be immediately arrested,” he said while addressing the media after an event in Faisalabad.

 Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah addresses media after an event in Faisalabad on March 5, 2023. Screengrab
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah addresses media after an event in Faisalabad on March 5, 2023. Screengrab

The police had only reached Zaman Park to comply with the court order, the interior minister said, adding that people sitting outside the residence would not have been a hindrance if the PTI chief was supposed to be arrested.

He stressed that it was the duty of the election commission to hold polls, adding that it should be for the betterment of the country.

“Elections should not be held only to satisfy Imran Khan’s stubbornness,” he said and warned that any poll that causes further chaos should not be held.

‘Team has arrived to arrest Imran Khan’

“Imran Khan is reluctant to court arrest. The superintendent of police has gone to the room but Imran Khan is not there. The team has arrived to arrest Imran Khan,” the Islamabad police said in a series of tweets.

A team of the capital police reached Lahore to arrest the former prime minister, following the court orders. All operations are being completed with the cooperation of the Lahore police, it said, adding that legal action would be taken against those obstructing the execution of court orders.

‘Banana republic’

Meanwhile, Imran Khan took to Twitter to slam the incumbent government.

“What future can a country have when crooks are thrust as rulers upon it? SS was about to be convicted by NAB for Rs 8 bn money laundering & by FIA for another Rs 16 bn corruption when he was rescued by Gen Bajwa who kept getting NAB cases trial postponed. While under trial he was made PM,” he said in a series of tweets.

The former prime minister claimed that his successor selected heads of investigating agencies only to get his name out of the Rs16 billion worth of corruption and Rs8 billion worth of money laundering cases.

“This is how a country becomes a banana republic,” Imran said.

Toshakhana reference

An Islamabad district and sessions court issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran Khan over persistent absences in the Toshakhana case on February 28. Earlier, the court had twice deferred the former premier’s indictment on medical grounds

Additional District and Sessions Court judge Zafar Iqbal had adjourned the hearing of the case till March 7.

The reference was filed by lawmakers from the ruling coalition, Pakistan Democratic Movement, last year. It alleges that Imran had not shared details of the state gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana (during his time as the prime minister) and proceeds from their reported sales.

The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) concluded on October 21 that ex-PM Imran had made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts.

The Toshakhana is a department under the Cabinet Division that stores gifts given to rulers and government officials by heads of other governments and foreign dignitaries. According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

The country’s top electoral authority’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

“He is for the time being disqualified from being elected or chosen as a member of the Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament) or of a Provincial Assembly under any law for the time being in force,” said the law which falls under the Disqualifications for membership of Majlis-e-Shoora (Parliament).

Later, the ECP had approached the Islamabad district and sessions court with a copy of the reference. It sought proceedings against Imran under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the state gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his time as the prime minister.

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