Govt mulling legal options to declare PTI a banned outfit

PML-N legal team examining matter in light of several revelations that could lead to reference being filed, says Rana

News Desk March 18, 2023
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah. PHOTO: APP/FILE

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah hinted on Saturday that legal proceedings could be initiated to declare Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) a banned outfit.

Speaking at a press conference in Lahore, Rana said that the legal team of ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) was examining the matter in light of several revelations that could lead to a reference being filed against the party.

He however clarified that it is ultimately up to the courts to officially ban a political party.

According to him, Punjab Police along with other law enforcement agencies conducted an operation against a "no-go area" in Lahore where a purported political leader had allegedly created an "atmosphere of fear".

Sanaullah said that the action was taken after resistance was encountered during the execution of court orders, leading to concerns of a possible terrorist organisation's presence.

"The operation resulted in the clearance of the no-go area in Zaman Park. Despite having a search warrant, officials did not enter the residential area," he added.

Read more: Imran says over 70 PTI workers arrested in Islamabad

The interior minister said that 65 people have been arrested from the outer part of the building, most of them do not belong to Punjab and their role is suspicious.

He further said that guns, petrol bomb-making equipment, slingshots and other weapons were recovered from Zaman Park.

Earlier in the day, the Punjab police launched a surprise search operation at Imran's residence – hours after he left to appear before a local court in Islamabad – and arrested several party workers.

Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Lahore himself monitored the operation as the police used heavy machinery to break down the gate of PTI chief Imran Khan's residence.

Police were accompanied by water cannons, bulldozers, and a prisoner van. They soon demolished PTI camps in the area with the help of cranes and removed barriers and containers.

Also read: Toshakhana case: Imran Khan’s warrants canceled after day-long chaos

Punjab Inspector General of Police (IGP) Dr Usman Anwar said that weapons were recovered during today’s 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 press conference, flanked by Caretaker Punjab Minister for Information Amir Mir.

He said that there were also some bunkers constructed at Zaman Park whereas some bullet-proof equipment was also found. He added that all illegal encroachments have also been removed.

Legal proceedings against Imran Khan began after he was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote early last year. The 70-year-old politician has been demanding a snap election and holding protests across the country.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected Khan's demands, saying an election would be held as scheduled later this year. Political infighting comes as the country struggles with an economic crisis, awaiting a bailout package of $1.1 billion from the IMF.

The case before the Islamabad High Court accuses Imran Khan of selling luxury watches and other items that were given to the state during his 2018-2022 term as prime minister.

The Election Commission of Pakistan had found him guilty and barred him from holding public office for one parliamentary term. Imran says he is avoiding the hearings because he fears for his safety.


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