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Police officers pull out of Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence
ISLAMABAD: Police and other law enforcers withdrew from Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore on Wednesday, stopping clashes that broke out after police tried to arrest the former prime minister for failing to appear in court in the Toshakhana case.
Policemen were seen leaving the Lahore district after clashing with Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters as repeated attempts were made earlier today to arrest the party chairman.
It was not immediately clear whether the security forces had called off their operation to arrest Imran. After they withdrew, the PTI chief was seen standing outside his home, wearing a gas mask, talking to supporters.
After the withdrawal, PTI supporters were seen celebrating the ‘victory’ and raising slogans in support of party chief Imran.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court has upheld former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s arrest warrant, but ordered the PTI chairman to produce before the court on Thursday (tomorrow) in the Toshakhana criminal case.
Islamabad High Court Judge Amir Farooq delivered Imran Khan’s petition for quashing while pronouncing the reserved order.
The court ordered Imran Khan to file an application in this regard in the district court and attach the undertaking given in the high court in the district court.
LHC suspends Zaman Park operations until IHC decides
Earlier, Lahore High Court Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh had restrained the police from continuing the Zaman Park operation until the Islamabad High Court’s verdict on the arrest warrant for Imran Khan, who is not out on bail, in the Toshakhana case.
Justice Sheikh was hearing different pleas, including pleas to seek safe passage for petitioner Imran Khan to approach the LHC for protection in different FIRs and to stop the “atrocities” of the police departments targeting petitioner Imran Khan, his political party and his leadership as well as the public.
Police again fired tear gas and used water cannons against agitating PTI workers and supporters as fresh clashes broke out this morning after police stepped up their operations during the nearly 24-hour standoff.
CCPO Lahore Bilal Siddique Kamyana and DIG Operations Lahore Afzal Kausar also reached the area to lead the operation. A large contingent of Punjab Rangers – in riot gear – was assisting the police.
On Tuesday evening, the district administration had approached three companies from Punjab Rangers to strengthen the police force.
PTI’s official Twitter handle stated that open firing had begun by Rangers and police with Imran’s residence under “extreme attack”.
Rangers are also present on Mall Road near the former prime minister’s Zaman Park residence – blocking access to the area. A traffic warden’s post and several vehicles have been set on fire.
Meanwhile, a group of lawyers are also heading towards Zaman Park.
According to Express News, mobile and internet services have been suspended in the Zaman Park neighborhood and surrounding areas. Educational institutions around Mall Road remain closed while an emergency has been declared in hospitals.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan claimed that the “arrest demand is only drama for the sake of it [the] the real intention is to rob and murder’.
He added that after tear gas and water cannons, the police “resorted to live fire”.
“I signed a surety bond last night, but the DIG even refused to entertain it. There is no doubt about their bad intentions”.
In a series of tweets, the PTI chief said there were “Rangers taking over” and in “direct conflict with the people”.
He asked the agency “who claimed to be neutral” if this was their idea of ”neutrality”.
“Longguards are directly confronting unarmed protesters and the leadership of the largest political party when their leader is facing an illegal warrant and a case already before the courts and already [a] government of scoundrels [is] trying to kidnap and possibly kill him?”