Former prime minister and PTI chief Imran Khan has lashed out at the Punjab police for conducting a surprise search operation at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, saying he is “immediately” moving court against the law enforcement agency for violating the sanctity of his home and resorting to “violence” against his party workers.
In a series of tweets on Saturday, the deposed premier said the police’s “assault” on his house was a contempt of court.
“We had agreed that an SP (superintendent of police) with one of our people would implement a search warrant bec(ause) we knew otherwise they would plant stuff on their own, which they did,” he added.
Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Usman Anwar earlier claimed that weapons were recovered during the search operation.
"We have recovered weapons from Imran Khan's house. There are more arms present there. An impression was being given that it is a no-go area but we have cleared it," the Punjab IGP said during a news conference, flanked by caretaker Punjab Information Minister Amir Mir.
Reacting to the police action, Imran asked, “Under what law did they [police] break the gate, pull down trees and barge into the house heavily armed. Worse, they did this after I left to present myself before Islamabad court, and Bushra bibi, a totally private non-political person, was alone in the house. This is a total violation of the Islamic principle of sanctity of chadar & char diwari.”
He also announced “immediately” taking up the contempt issue, violation of the sanctity of his home and the violence against his party workers and his domestic staff with judiciary.
His statement came hours after the PTI filed a petition in the Lahore High Court against the “illegal” search operation conducted at Imran’s Zaman Park residence by the Punjab police, allegedly violating the ToRs agreed by the provincial administration, police and the PTI leadership.
The petitioner, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, filed the petition through Advocate Azhar Siddique, requesting the court to pass directions to chief secretary, Punjab IGP, caretaker Punjab chief minister and others to immediately stop and refrain from restarting the “illegal operation” in future.
The petitioner contended in his petition that a brutal and illegal police operation by the use of force and heavy artillery is under way at the residence of Imran in sheer disregard of privacy of female citizens including the wife of Imran Khan.
Imran, in a video message earlier in the afternoon, said the incumbent government intended to arrest him as he made his way to a district and sessions court in Islamabad.
Issuing a special statement while en route to Islamabad, the PTI chairman said he “knows that he will be arrested but is still making his way to the court because he 'believes in the rule of law'".
“I want to tell you all that these people [government] have made a plan to arrest me,” he said, adding that he was ready to go the Islamabad court before as well.
“The Zaman Park operation was not done to make me appear before the court, it was done to put me in jail…because it is part of the London plan of Nawaz Sharif so that I may not take part in elections,” he added.
Reacting to the police “misconduct”, the PTI leaders strongly condemned the police operation at the former prime minister’s Zaman Park residence, announcing that they would stage nationwide protests against the brutality of the Punjab police.
Addressing a news conference on Saturday, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said the party workers and supporters were awaiting Imran’s call to stage protests across the country against the “illegal operation”.
He noted that all the roads leading to the PTI chairman’s residence were closed.
“We tried to reach Imran Khan’s residence through different routes, but failed.”
He highlighted that Article 15 of the Constitution gave them the right of movement, which they were denied.
He pointed out that former first lady Bushra Bibi and the household staff were present at the time of the operation.
He accused the police of torturing the people present at the residence and damaging the property.
The PTI leader said the police violated the LHC orders. “The ToRs were signed between the police and the PTI regarding the search of Imran’s residence.”
It was said in the court that the search would be conducted with a warrant and hence “we agreed to cooperate with the authorities, but they violated the agreement, which is invasion of privacy”.
“A contempt of court application has been filed in the Lahore High Court in this connection,” he highlighted.
On Minister Mir and Punjab IG’s presser, Fawad said that it was full of lies as its contents were already predicted on social media before it was held.
He accused caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi and the Punjab IG of working on an agenda of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz, saying that they would face justice for the murder of their party worker Zille Shah.
“The police launched the operation under an agenda set by PML-N Senior Vice President Maryam Nawaz,” he added.
He also criticised the government for rising prices of edible items and petroleum products, and failed foreign policy, terming the regime fascist.
“The government is not concerned about the country and its only agenda is to arrest Imran Khan,” he claimed, adding that his party chairman represented Pakistan and this was the reason the incumbent rulers wanted to arrest him.
In an apparent reference to Maryam, Fawad said that a woman, who never contested an election of a councillor, was dictating the government. “She said it was necessary to arrest Imran Khan,” he said, adding that the woman had hijacked the entire Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) and the Pakistan Peoples Party.”
On this occasion, PTI Central Punjab General Secretary Hammad Azhar termed the operation illegal and in violation of the court orders, saying everyone saw how the house’s main gate was broken.
“On social media, it was seen that weapons were brought from outside and later the police claimed that they were recovered from Imran Khan’s residence. The police carried out the operation on the behest of someone,” he claimed.
The former federal minister maintained that the PTI was a peaceful party, but they were accused of harbouring terrorists. “In the future whatever we do, we will do it peacefully. There will be protests all over the country, but they will be peaceful,” he added.
“The country cannot continue like this. The caretaker government should not think that they can avoid elections,” he added.
PTI leader Shireen Mazari criticised the government, saying the police operation at Zaman Park during the past few days was “state-sponsored terrorism”.
She slammed the Punjab IG, claiming that fake evidence was planted to justify the police operation, accusing the provincial police chief of lying.
She stated that this operation was part of the “London plan” and a conspiracy to bring Maryam to power. “The country has been turned into a fascist state and the rulers are destroying the country,” she added.
Meanwhile, PTI President Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi also alleged that Zaman Park police operation was carried out on the orders of Maryam and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah.
Speaking to the media, the former Punjab chief minister castigated the PDM government, alleging that the police, on the orders of Sanaullah and Maryam, raided the PTI chairman’s house and ransacked everything without a search warrant.
“Imran Khan’s sister and wife, who were present at the house at the time of the raid, sought a search warrant from the police,” he said, adding that the police instead of showing the warrant raided and ransacked the house.
He maintained that elections would be held in any case as per the Supreme Court orders, claiming that the PML-N would lose the election, as the former prime minister was currently the most popular leader across the country.
He called out to the nation to come in support of Imran against the incumbent government.
However, the PTI leaders asked the party workers to stay calm, alleging that the police attacked the residence with armoured vehicles.
They also claimed that there were no female police officials with the raiding party.
“If the police had a search warrant then who did they produce it before,” they questioned.
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