LAHORE: The PTI leadership has strongly condemned the “state terrorism” launched at the residence of party chairman Imran Khan which they said was “part of a London Plan to eliminate him”.
As Mr Khan left his Zaman Park residence in Lahore on Saturday to appear before a judge in Islamabad, a heavy contingent of police launched a search operation at his house.
Addressing a press conference at the party’s office, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said the operation was part of the agenda set by PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz and aimed at arresting Mr Khan.
“A woman, who has never even contested a councillor’s election is setting the government’s agenda,” he said while referring to Ms Sharif’s Friday presser where she asserted that Mr Khan should be arrested.
He claimed the operation was in violation of the court orders and created an environment of anarchy across the country as PTI workers were pressuring the leadership to announce country-wide protests.
The PTI leader asked party workers to be ready for the final showdown and await Mr Khan’s instructions to launch the protests. Mr Chaudhry added that party leaders were going to Islamabad with Mr Khan but returned mid-way after the news of the “cowardly attack”.
The whole nation was suffering due to unprecedented inflation but the government’s only objective was to arrest the PTI chairman, he added.
Mr Chaudhry said the residence’s gates were razed with the help of excavators, while police officials scaled walls and tortured people inside the house. He said the operation was in sheer violation of the Lahore High Court’s orders as the police did not inform the court’s nominated focal person Imran Kishwar before the raid.
“I informed Punjab advocate general Security DIG, who acknowledged and stated that the message would be conveyed to the IG Police. Still, the operation was executed,” he lamented.
On Friday, the Lahore High Court allowed a request by the Punjab police chief to search Mr Khan’s Zaman Park residence for an investigation into attacks on police teams when they went to execute warrants issued by an Islamabad court for the PTI chief’s arrest.
No search warrant
In a video message, Mr Khan’s sister, Dr Uzma Khanum, claimed the police conducted the operation without warrants.
Stating that the policemen harassed women and tortured servants, Dr Khanum said the policemen “seemed blood-thirsty” as they brutally thrashed unarmed people in the house.
She alleged that the police also abducted her husband and some servants.
PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi also visited Zaman Park after the raid and called the action “brutality and violence”.
Calling Ms Sharif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah fascists, Mr Elahi said the police didn’t even respect the sanctity of women in the house.
He said the use of shelling and rubber bullets on workers and employees was condemnable.
LAHORE: The chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board’s interim management committee Najam Sethi on Saturday claimed that the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season, which came to a close with — claiming the title, had surpassed the Indian Premier League (IPL) on digital rating.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of the final, Sethi stated that this season’s PSL got a digital rating of 150 as compared to IPL’s 130 in its last edition while sending out his gratitude to the fans as well as the federal and provincial governments of Punjab and Sindh in making the event successful.
A new option was also tabled. “We have proposals to hold some matches of the league in the United States and if we get a chance, we will explore that option,” said the 74-year-old, adding that the PCB is in talks with the relevant authorities in Karachi and Lahore to build five-star hotels for the players near the stadiums for the public’s convenience.
He also highlighted how the PSL has impacted and helped improve the country’s economic situation.
“PSL has contributed in keeping the country’s economic wheel moving as it created job opportunities and helped tourism, hotel industry, airlines, and road travelling business grow,” Sethi said before disclosing the taxes paid to the government. “We have paid Rs70crores in taxes to the federal government, Rs50crores in sales taxes, and another Rs50crores in provincial taxes.”
On the issue regarding three betting companies sponsoring teams in the PSL, Sethi clarified that the agreements would be reviewed as those took place before he was installed as PCB chief. “The PCB would not be involved in any activities against the religion, culture, and tradition of the land,” he added.
LAHORE: India never halted trade relations with Pakistan and wants to move towards normalising business ties, an Indian diplomat said on Friday, stressing that today’s diplomacy focuses on tourism, trade and technology because “money speaks its own language”. “India always wants better relations with Pakistan because we cannot change our geography,” Suresh Kumar, India’s deputy high commissioner to Pakistan, said while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). “We want to move towards normal relations with Pakistan. We also didn’t stop trade with Pakistan, as it was Pakistan that did it,” he claimed. “It would be better to see how we can change our problems and situations.” He agreed that the number of visas issued by the Indian embassy to Pakistanis dropped during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, he insisted that the number had now increased, as 30,000 visas were being issued every year, which he said was “a huge number”. Mr Kumar said the Indian government was also issuing medical and sports visas to Pakistanis. He said gone were the days when diplomacy used to focus on compiling political reports. Today’s diplomacy, he said, revolved around tourism, trade and technology “as money speaks its own language”. India was presently doing trade of $120 billion with China, in which the balance of trade is towards China, he said, stressing that imports “are not always wrong and also have advantages”. Mr Kumar said the intellectual property had become more important than physical property. “By sitting in distant countries and manufacturing in other countries, Europe is making money due to intellectual property rights,” he said. “Universities in Europe focus on technology.” He said transit trade was extremely important as Central Asia was a big market and India needed access to it. Similarly, Central Asia also needed access to India. He said India was on course to become one of the largest economies. “Our service sector has grown enormously and now we are focusing on manufacturing, like automobile and electronics manufacturing,” he said. LCCI President Kashif Anwar said it was generally thought that improving economic relations between India and Pakistan was a complex issue that required addressing a range of political, economic and social factors. “But we are of the view that the foremost step that could be taken to improve economic relations between India and Pakistan is to normalise trade relations. This would bring substantial economic benefits evenly to both the countries,” he said.
Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zafar Iqbal on Saturday permitted PTI Chairman Imran Khan to go back after marking his attendance outside the Islamabad Judicial Complex where the PTI chief was to be indicted in the Toshakhana case.
“The situation as it is, the hearing and appearance cannot proceed,” the judge said referring to the clashes between the Islamabad Police and PTI workers outside the Judicial Complex. “All those who have gathered here should disperse after marking attendance. There is no need for shelling or pelting [of stones], the hearing cannot be held today.”
He added that once the PTI chief’s signatures were taken, the next date for the hearing could then be decided.
The hearing was adjourned thereafter till Imran’s signature was taken.
Judge allows Imran to go back after giving signature outside Judicial Complex Imran alleges he is waiting outside Judicial Complex and not being allowed to enter Police and PTI accuse each other of shelling
Imran outside Islamabad Judicial Complex with motorcade of party workers Sanaullah says ‘bomb-making’ material recovered from Zaman Park house Police enter Zaman Park residence as structures in and outside premises dismantled PTI petitions court against denial of entry of party members to judicial complex Ex-premier claims govt intends to arrest him and bar him from leading election drive, calls it a part of “London plan’ Venue of hearing moved to Judicial Complex over PTI’s security fears Security tight in Islamabad with section 144 in place in parts of capital Meanwhile, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Ary News from the Islamabad High Court that “all legal process [for the signature] has been completed” and said that Imran was now departing from the Judicial Complex.
Qureshi also strongly criticised the Punjab and Islamabad police forces for their actions against the PTI.
Dawn.com’s correspondent at the scene confirmed that people inside the courtroom were facing difficulties due to the effects of the teargas and the windows were pelted by stones as well.
Amid the situation, lawyer Intezar Panjotha informed the court that Imran’s chief of staff Shibli Faraz was “manhandled” by Nausherwan’s superintendent of police. Faraz was subsequently presented in court and released after the judge ordered the police to do so.
As Imran and his motorcade earlier reached outside the Islamabad Judicial Complex, he alleged that he was not being allowed to enter the court’s premises.
In an audio message released to the media, Imran said: “I am waiting outside the [judicial complex’s] door for 15 minutes and am fully trying to enter but they’ve done teargas [shelling] and erected checkpoints and it seems they don’t want that I reach here.”
Despite that, he reiterated that he was outside the complex and was attempting to enter it.
According to DawnNewsTV, a large number of party workers, who were accompanying the former prime minister, are attempting to escort him onto court premises, but due to security arrangements, they were not being allowed to.
The PTI leader was scheduled to appear before the court of ADSJ Iqbal to attend proceedings on a complaint filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for allegedly concealing details of gifts in his assets declarations.
Imran, who left his Lahore home a little after 8am and had warned in a video message that he was expecting an attempt to arrest him, had yet to reach the court, though the Islamabad Police tweeted that Imran’s convoy was right in front of the Judicial Complex.
The police claimed that protesters burnt another of its vehicle.
In a later tweet, the police posted grainy images of the purported shelling.
Dawn.com‘s correspondent on the scene confirmed that amid the standoff, the courtroom’s windows were also pelted with stones and the premises were also affected by the effects of the teargas.
In turn, the PTI also accused the police of shelling Imran’s vehicle. PTI Senator Ejaz Chaudhary tweeted that Imran’s convoy was outside the courts in sector G11, and that “intense shelling on IK car right now!”
Pemra has currently banned television coverage of the Judicial Complex and political rallies.
Commenting on the day’s developments, President Dr Arif Alvi said: “Another day in life of Pakistan has passed without catastrophe. […] Narrow escape. Any major accident could have happened.”
The president called on all politicians to work together to take the country out of its current issues.
Meanwhile, PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz earlier quipped at the PTI chief, saying he was a “jackal who is scared of getting arrested which is why he is refusing to come outside of his car.”
LAHORE: After the Lahore High Court ordered the police to put off its operation to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan till 10am today (Thursday), an eerie calm prevailed in Zaman Park — the residence of the PTI chairman — after a night of pitched battles between the police and supporters of the PTI chief.
The situation could be best described as a ‘calm before the storm’ — police pickets around the residence are still in place while a defiant Imran Khan is refusing to back down. The second-tier leadership of the PTI is fearing an escalation of hostilities, whereas the residents of the city are keeping their fingers crossed.
As Wednesday dawned on Zaman Park, there was no let-up in clashes between PTI workers and law enforcement agencies. Party supporters retaliated with petrol bombs as police used tear gas and water cannons to disperse PTI activists, and gunshots were also heard. The party workers collected and showed empty bullet shells on posts widely circulated on social media.
Police initially suspended the operation due to a PSL match scheduled for the evening, saying the operation would resume after the cricket match.
In the meantime, the LHC suspended the police operation until 10am on Thursday (today).
In the early hours of Wednesday, Imran Khan released a video message alleging that attempts to arrest him were part of an alleged ‘London Plan’ that required his imprisonment. He said the London Plan also required the dismantling of the PTI and getting cases against Nawaz Sharif quashed.
Stating that police and Rangers were raiding time and again as if they wanted to conquer Zaman Park, he said, he gave an undertaking to LHCBA President Ishtiaq A. Khan for a personal appearance before the court on March 18 to avoid confrontation. He regretted the Punjab police DIG did not receive his undertaking because of the ‘London Plan’.
In his second address, Mr Khan appeared on screens with a number of empty tear gas shells and bullets neatly arranged on his tabletop. He urged the establishment and the judiciary to stop the “drama” going outside his residence and stop working on the ‘London Plan’.
He said the criminals currently in the corridors of power wanted to “minus Imran Khan” so that he should not contest upcoming elections.
In a question posed to ‘neutrals’ — a euphemism he uses for the military establishment — Mr Khan asked why they allowed the Rangers to come and raid his residence. “What crime I have committed that the Rangers were scaling the outer walls of my residence,” he asked.
Pointing to the tear gas shells and bullet casings, Mr Khan asked, “Is this democracy? I ask those, who hold real power, whether they are concerned about Pakistan or not.”
The PTI chief said he wanted to turn himself in but several party leaders and workers did not let him do so because of custodial torture. The party workers feared that any arrest would entail torture as they did to other party leaders,“ he said and added that the situation “is getting out of my control”.
LHC suspends operation
In response to a petition submitted by PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh suspended the police operation till 10am when the court will resume proceedings in the case. Justice Sheikh is also scheduled to take Imran Khan’s petitions seeking protective bail in FIRs registered against him at the Ramna police station in Islamabad and Racecourse PS in Lahore.
Lahore High Court Bar Association President Chaudhry Ishtiaq A. Khan appeared on behalf of the petitioner, whereas Advocate General of Punjab Shan Gul represented the caretaker government.
In the first phase of the hearing, the advocate general questioned the maintainability of the petition, arguing that the matter fell under the domain of the IHC, where the PTI chief had also filed a petition against the arrest warrants. However, Advocate Khan insisted that the police action violated the fundamental rights of citizens and turned Zaman Park into a “war zone”.
The judge summoned the chief secretary, the inspector general of police of Punjab and the Islamabad operations chief at 3:15pm. The judge warned to issue arrest warrants after a federal law officer said the Islamabad police did not fall under the jurisdiction of the LHC.
As the judge resumed the hearing, IGP Punjab Dr Usman Anwar told the court that the Lahore police were only supporting the capital police for the compliance of the arrest warrants of Imran Khan issued by an Islamabad court.
He said that at least 59 police officers had been injured and two police vehicles, including water cannons, were damaged “due to the attack by PTI workers”. He accused the party workers of hurling petrol bombs at the police. The IGP said there was “no police operation” and only those attacking cops had been arrested.
In light of the proceedings before the IHC, the judge ordered the IGP to halt the operation and withdraw the police force from Zaman Park and station them near Canal Bridge on Mall Road, Dharampura Bridge (near the railway junction) and Sundar Das Road.
Additional District and Sessions (ADSJ) Judge Zafar Iqbal said on Thursday that he would stop the Islamabad police from arresting PTI Chairman Imran Khan in the Toshakhana case if the ex-premier surrendered in court.
The judge passed these remarks while hearing the Election Commission of Pakistan’s (ECP) reference seeking criminal proceedings against Imran for concealing details of Toshakhana gifts.
The sessions court was set to indict Imran in the reference on Feb 28, but his lawyer had requested the judge that he be exempted from the hearing because he had to appear in several other courts. His indictment was deferred multiple times before.
The judge had subsequently issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran and instructed the police to present him in court by March 7. The PTI chief managed to dodge the arrest and later approached the Islamabad High Court (IHC) for the cancellation of the warrants.
The IHC, while granting some relief to Imran, had told him to appear in the sessions court by March 13, but the former prime minister once again skipped the hearing. Resultantly, ADSJ Iqbal had on Monday re-issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran and directed the police to bring him to court by March 18.
However, when the police reached Imran’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore to arrest him on Tuesday, they were met with resistance, leading to two-day pitched battles between PTI supporters and law enforcement agencies. The clashes ultimately subsided after the courts intervened on Wednesday.
That same day, the PTI also challenged the latest arrest warrants issued for Imran in the IHC. It rejected the plea and directed the PTI chief to submit an undertaking to the trial court which states he would attend the hearing on March 18.
On Thursday morning, the court of ADSJ Iqbal resumed hearing the case. Imran’s lawyers Khawaja Haris Ahmed and Babar Awan were present on his behalf.
As the proceedings commenced, the judge remarked that the court had not yet received the high court’s directives as per judicial procedures.
“Do you think a notice should be issued to the ECP regarding the case being maintainable,” ADSJ Iqbal asked. “This matter can be resolved in a second … where is Imran Khan?
“When has Imran appeared in court in person? What is the concept of an undertaking,” he inquired.
At that, Haris asked if it was necessary to arrest his client to bring him to court.
“We want Imran to come to court. Why is he not coming? What is the reason? Imran Khan has to assist the police according to the law, not resist them,” the judge remarked, adding that had the warrants been bailable, there would have been no issue.
“But the warrants are non-bailable.”
Here, Haris read the IHC’s order out loud in court. However, the judge stated that the arguments presented by the counsel were for bailable warrants.
“There already is a surety in the case,” ADSJ Iqbal pointed out. “In its verdict, the IHC has also said that the court order should not be affected by any illegal actions.”
Meanwhile, Haris argued that a surety had already been submitted in the court and his client was ready to give an undertaking as well. “Do you want to remain strict and uphold Imran’s non-bailable arrest warrants?”
The judge stated that the warrants were issued for Imran’s appearance in the case to which the lawyer stated that Imran wanted to come to court.
“Imran is not asking for an exemption, he wants to come to court,” Haris said. “But, at this moment, are non-bailable warrants necessary for an arrest?” he asked.
The lawyer contended that the court had two options. “The first is that you accept the undertaking and cancel the non-bailable arrest warrants and the second is that you take a surety and issue bailable arrest warrants,” he proposed.
Haris also clarified that Imran wanted to give an undertaking that he would appear in court on March 18.
Here, ADSJ Iqbal remarked that the arrest warrant — issued for Imran — had become the most expensive warrant in the world. “Millions of rupees have been spent [to execute] this warrant.
“What happened shouldn’t have taken place,” the judge asserted.
Haris agreed with ADSJ Iqbal and then urged the court to cancel Imran’s warrants. He also requested that the ECP lawyer be issued notices and called for arguments.
But the judge asked: “Why is the situation bad outside Zaman Park right now?”
Imran’s lawyer replied that the government was carrying out a political vendetta through arrests. “In more than three incidents, there have been instances of torture and case have been registered against people.”
Here, ADSJ Iqbal said that he would stop the Islamabad police from the arrest if Imran surrendered in court. “Legally, Imran should have been directly brought to court… it wouldn’t have been possible to harass him during the court appearance.”
“Section 91 has been violated but the arrest warrants were issued under Section 93,” he added.
The judge also said Pakistan was a poor country and there was no need to spend millions of rupees on the warrants. “If a date is mentioned on the warrant, it doesn’t mean that action should be taken that day only … it means that the person be arrested and presented in court whenever possible.
The police cannot sit outside doing nothing, he added.
ADSJ Iqbal further asked why Imran resisted the warrants that were legally issued. “This is the money of the public. You could have held a peaceful protest.”
In criminal proceedings, he went on to say, arrest warrants were usually issued and then cancelled after the suspect appeared in court.
At one point, Imran’s lawyers presented his undertaking in court and requested that the non-bailable arrest warrants for him be forthwith cancelled.
However, the judge issued notices to the secretariat police and ECP and summoned them to court. The hearing was subsequently adjourned till 12pm.
The reference, which alleges that Imran had not shared details of the gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana (during his time as the prime minister) and proceeds from their reported sales, was filed by lawmakers from the ruling coalition last year. On October 21, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had concluded that the former premier had indeed 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 watchdog’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.
Subsequently, the ECP had approached the Islamabad sessions court with a copy of the reference, seeking proceedings against Imran under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as the prime minister.
ISLAMABAD: The Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) will hold three meetings today (Tuesday) to decide the fate of general polls to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Assembly and finalise preparation for polls to the Punjab Assembly.
The first meeting will be held with KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali for a consultation about the date of elections to the provincial assembly.
According to sources, Mr Ali is likely to skip the meeting.
An official told Dawn that the KP governor, who had expressed his desire to come to the ECP last week, was formally invited on March 14 but he had not confirmed his arrival yet.
The second meeting will be held to review arrangements for polls in Punjab scheduled for April 30. The meeting will be attended by the Punjab caretaker chief minister, Mohsin Naqvi, the chief secretary and the police chief.
The top provincial officials are expected to paint a grim picture of the law and order situation and cite terror threats to make a case for putting off the polls, sources said.
The third meeting will be held to finalise whether the armed forces will be available for election duties or not.
The meeting will be attended by representatives of the Ministry of Defence and the Directorate General of Military Operations. The meeting will discuss the deployment of troops for the polls.
Separately, the ECP on Monday considered PTI’s plea against the imposition of Section 144, banning all rallies in Lahore, from the day the schedule for general polls to the assembly was announced.
According to the ECP’s media wing, the commission considered the petition filed by senior party leader Babar Awan a day earlier on behalf of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.
The ECP asked the Punjab chief secretary to submit a report on the matter today (Tuesday).
The letter stated that the commission was bound to conduct transparent and peaceful elections under the Constitution.
The PTI had challenged the imposition of Section 144 in Lahore and alleged the caretaker provincial government resorted to this step to bar the party from holding the election rally.
While talking to Dawn, an ECP official said holding of rallies after the announcement of the poll schedule was the right of all political parties including the PTI.
Also on Tuesday, the commission will resume the hearing of the contempt of the ECP and the chief election commissioner cases.
Last week, it issued bailable arrest warrants for Mr Khan and PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry in the case which were suspended by Lahore High Court.
Last year, the commission had issued notices of contempt to Mr Khan, Mr Chaudhry and Asad Umar for using intemperate, unparliamentary and contemptuous remarks against the ECP, while two separate notices were issued to the PTI chairman and Mr Chaudhry for allegedly indulging in the contempt of the chief election commissioner.
The commission also delisted a case, previously fixed for hearing on March 14, regarding the intra-party election in the PML-N. According to the cause list issued for the day, no reason has been given for delisting the case, which has been done by the order of the authority.