PTI summons more support as Rangers, police withdraw from Zaman Park
The PTI has summoned more supporters to Zaman Park after its workers foiled a Rangers bid to arrest Imran Khan at around noon on Wednesday.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi says the number of supporters will increase by tonight.
Rangers and the police withdrew from Zaman Park at 2pm on Wednesday, exactly 24 hours after since the police first arrived at Zaman Park at around 2pm on Tuesday.
Police not to seek Khan’s arrest
Citing government sources Aaj News reported that the authorities have decided not to arrest Imran Khan from Zaman Park since it may deteriorate the law and order situation.
The decision will hold at least until the end of the PSL tournament on Sunday, March 19. This is the PTI will be holding a rally at Minar-e-Pakistan and Imran Khan will leave his residence.
Shortly before the police and Rangers withdrew, hundreds of lawyers marched toward Zaman Park and reached there. They first gathered at the GPO Chowk on the appeal of PTI’s Fawad Chaudhry. Lahore High Court Bar Associations Sabahat Rizvi also voiced support for Khan.
PTI still urged more supporters to reach Zaman Park.
The appeal came as Rangers made a push at Khan’s residence using rubber bullets and tear gas shells. But PTI workers put up resistance forcing the Rangers and police personnel to retreat.
This was the last of several failed attempts by law enforcement agencies (LEAs) to arrest Imran Khan.
The Punjab government sent in the Rangers Wednesday morning after the Islamabad and Lahore police failed to arrest Imran Khan.
How events unfolded on Wednesday
The Rangers launched the operation at 8:40am on Wednesday. They went in with an armored vehicle but retreated after they were pelted with stones.
The police fired tear gas at PTI supporters who in turn hurled stones at the Police and Rangers.
“A large number of party workers are facing off with a sizeable deployment of Rangers and police,” reported Huma Butt of Aaj News.
PTI Spokesperson Mussarrat Cheema said that at least four bus-loads of police personnel arrived at Zaman Park early Wednesday.
For its part, the PTI seems to have summoned reinforcements.
“I saw PTI workers from KP everywhere around Zaman Park. All the roads around Zaman Park have been blocked and this has caused trouble to ordinary residents since it is a work day,” said Huma Butt.
At 10:45am, Rangers made a fresh push at Zaman Park sparking a frenzy. Police started arresting PTI workers who pelted them with stones.
Footage aired by Aaj News showed PTI workers being arrested by policemen wearing riot gear.
At 12:00pm, reports suggested Rangers were using rubber bullets against the PTI workers. TV footage showed Rangers personnel advancing toward PTI supporters.
A government statement said that at least 64 people, most of them policemen, had been injured in the clashes since Tuesday. Islamabad DIG Police Shehbaz Bukhari is among 54 injured policemen.
At least 8 PTI workers were also wounded, the statement said.
At 12:30pm, Tariq Khan of Aaj News reported that there was no let-up in clashes as a sizeable number of PTI workers were still resisting the police and Rangers. They pelted policemen with stones and a battalion of baton-wielding activists repeatedly charged at the police.
PTI workers set a police van on fire after dousing it with petrol, Aaj News reported.
At 12:35, hundreds of lawyers in black coats arrived at Zaman Park from GPO where they had gathered earlier.
At 01:58pm, Aaj News reported that Rangers and police were being withdrawn from Zaman Park. PTI Twitter accounts shared videos of party workers celebrating the retreat.
Early morning clashes
Earlier, Wednesday clashes were reported between police and PTI workers, with police firing tear gas. Police launched a fresh effort at around 6am and arrived at Gate 1 where it faced resistance.
After clashes, the police retreated to Mall Road and Dharampura as more PTI workers arrived at Gate 1 and Gate 2. A large number of activists showed up at Canal Road.
The first effort to arrest Imran Khan was launched at around 2pm on Tuesday when the police arrived at his residence, but clahses continued for hours until late night.
Khan steps out of his house
The PTI tweeted a video from its official handle and said Imran Khan had stepped out of his house to see his supporters at around 7am.
The video did not contain any audio but Imran Khan seemed to speak with supporters. No senior party leader appears in the video.
This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day.
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