PTI leaders fired off warnings in the early hours of Monday, saying their leader would be a “red line”, as reports of Imran Khan’s imminent arrest made the rounds.
The development came after the PTI chief was booked under Section 7 of the Anti-Terrorism Act (punishment for acts of terrorism) regarding his comments at his Islamabad rally on Saturday.
A Twitter trend quickly gained traction, gathering 140,000 retweets at the time of this report saying: “Imran Khan hamari red line”.
A number of supporters converged on Imran Khan’s Bani Gala residence in solidarity with their leader.
PTI’s official Twitter account tweeted Fawad Chaudhry with a number of workers at the residence, with the former minister insisting Khan was at home and “hundreds of workers had reached”.
Close associates of the former prime minister, like Murad Saeed, separately announced on Twitter that arrest orders had been issued for Imran, as he urged supporters to “get out for the sake of Pakistan”.
Fellow leaders asked people to converge at various locations in their respective cities with Hammad Azhar calling on them to rally at Lahore’s Liberty Chowk, while Farrukh Habib urged people to gather at Faisalabad’s Samandari Road.
Ali Amin Gandapur threatened taking over Islamabad, warning the police to not be a “part of this political war anymore”.
“If Imran Khan is arrested by the imported government we will take over Islamabad,” he warned. “And my message to police is that don’t be part of this political war anymore otherwise will deal [with] you as pdm workers not police anymore let pti and pdm leadership and workers fight and decide once and for all.”
As the matter gained steam, Islamabad police media director Taqi Jawad told Dawn.com that the police reached Bani Gala, not for Imran’s arrest but due to a “possible law and order situation”.
He said reports of his arrest had been circulating since evening after which workers reached Imran’s residence and the police presence at Banigala was only to contain the situation. “If we decide to do anything of such sort, we will share it with the media,” he added.
The first information report (FIR), a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, was registered at Islamabad’s Margalla police station at 10pm on Saturday under the complaint of magistrate Ali Javed.
The FIR said that at the PTI’s rally at F-9 park a day ago, Imran had “terrorised and threatened top police officials and a respected female additional sessions judge” in his address.
The FIR reproduced the PTI chairman’s comments where he spoke about the female judge and the Islamabad police officials.
In his address on Saturday, Imran had threatened to file cases against Islamabad’s inspector general of police and deputy inspector general of police and said: “We won’t spare you.”
The former premier had also taken exception to Additional District and Sessions Judge Zeba Chaudhry, who had approved Gill’s two-day physical remand at the request of the capital police, and said she should “prepare herself as action would be taken against her”.
The FIR argued that Imran’s speech was meant to “terrorise” top police officials and the judiciary so they could not perform their functions and abstain from pursuing any action against any PTI-related individual if required to do so.
The magistrate argued that Imran’s speech had spread fear and uncertainty among the police, judges and the nation. “Terrorism has been spread the country’s peace has been harmed,” he added.
The FIR requested that legal action be pursued against Imran and an “exemplary punishment” be meted out.
Govt mulling filing case against Imran
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the government was holding legal consultations on whether to file a separate case against PTI Chairman Imran Khan for his “provocative speech” a day ago or nominate him in a previous case.
In a press conference in Islamabad, the minister called out Imran for allegedly threatening institutions and preventing officers from performing their lawful duties.
“This is all happening in continuation — from a campaign after Lasbela incident when six army officers were martyred followed by Gill’s attempt to incite army ranks to go against their top command and then Imran threatening a woman judge and police officials for performing their duties as per the law,” the minister explained.
Imran claimed had in a rally a day ago that the Islamabad police was taking orders for action against his party leaders from “someone”.
“When I asked the police to tell me what did you do to Shahbaz Gill, they said ‘we did nothing, we got a boot from behind to follow orders’,” he told the rally participants on Saturday while announcing plans to move the Supreme Court against the alleged torture of Gill.
Imran also warned the judiciary against its “biased” attitude towards his party, saying that it should brace itself for the consequences.
In his presser today, Sanaullah said his ministry had prepared a report and it was conferring with the Islamabad advocate general and the law ministry, adding it would take a couple of days to reach a final decision.
He once again cast aspersions on the PTI’s claims of Gill being tortured during detention, questioning why Gill had thus far not filed an application or named an official who allegedly subjected him to torture.
“This is all drama just to divert attention from his anti-state remarks made on ARY News and the campaign over Lasbela incident,” the minister claimed.
Gill’s remarks against army were a ‘set plan’
The minister claimed that his ministry had proof in the form of a telephonic conversation allegedly revealing Gill’s understanding with ARY News workers about uninterrupted 14-minute airtime to be given to him for speaking against the army.
“How could he provoke army officers to disobey the orders of their top command?” he asked.
Sanallah said Gill termed a tier of certain officers as patriotic and labelled the “top command as unpatriotic”.
He narrated that many politicians would have spoken about the establishment’s alleged interference in politics by naming them, saying many retired officers of the establishment had also written books and admitted the past mistakes.
But, Gill took a name of all ranks terming them patriots and instigating them against the top command, he lamented.
The minister termed Gill’s remarks as “serious and unforgivable”.
The interior minister ruled out the PTI claims that their party leader was assaulted as well as sexually abused during custody, saying Gill remained in police custody from Aug 9-11 and subsequently he was sent on judicial remand for six days from Aug 12 to Aug 17.
“Not a single complaint was filed by him about torture and his condition deteriorated only after his remand was extended on Aug 17,” the minister said.
He said Imran was struggling to defend the statement made by Gill, hence “he made up a story of Gill’s torture to divert focus from his anti-Pakistan statements”.
The minister insisted that Gill was being served all meals on time amid proper care.
He accused the PTI of concocting stories as part of “damage control”, adding the government would expose the alleged plot.
‘PTI to face stronger action than May 25 protest if long march held’
Sanaullah also warned Imran of stronger action than what was done during the May 25 ‘Azadi March’ to PTI activists if his party went ahead with its plans.
However, he did not elaborate on whether the Imran-led party would be outrightly denied permission for the protest or there would be a conditional permit.
“If he [Imran] again takes such a step, the decision will be taken at the moment,” the minister added.
‘Why is govt scared of investigating Gill’s torture?’
Responding to the minister’s assertions, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the government was labouring under the belief that “closed rooms” could save it from the nation’s wrath.
In a press conference in Islamabad, Fawad questioned how Sanaullah was being “tolerated” as the country’s interior minister. He highlighted how the PML-N leader had supposedly made controversial statements while speaking in the Punjab Assembly.
He also expressed surprise at how the minister was “dismissing” allegations of Gill being tortured when he himself had experienced something similar in the past. The ex-minister said: “If Gill hasn’t been tortured, why are those in power afraid of an investigation into the matter?”
Fawad reiterated his call for the formation of an independent panel to probe the alleged torture of Gill. He also wondered who was responsible if not the Islamabad police.
Referring to Imran’s speech on Saturday, Fawad played down the allegations that the former premier had threatened Islamabad police and a judge. He also played a video clip of the interior minister to “draw a comparison” between a real threat and taking a legal course of action against someone.
He went on to say that torture should be condemned unequivocally, and urged politicians to refrain from “polluting politics”.
In his address on Saturday, Imran had threatened to file cases against the police, bureaucracy, the Election Commission of Pakistan and political opponents over the treatment allegedly meted out to his chief of staff Shahbaz Gill.
The PTI chief again called on the “neutrals” — a euphemism he uses for the military establishment — to stand with the nation rather than the “gang of thieves”, in reference to the ruling coalition.
He said he wanted to ask the neutrals if they were “really neutral”. He had also alleged that the Islamabad police was taking orders for action against his party leaders from ‘someone’.
The ex-PM had announced that he would present a roadmap to the public in the party’s rally at Rawalpindi’s Liaquat Bagh on Sunday (today), adding he planned to take to the streets across the country from today.
Imran’s security withdrawn by ICT, says Mazari
PTI leader Shireen Mazari said the Islamabad police had withdrawn security from Imran and his residence since Saturday evening.
“This is against the law but who cares about law in this Imported government. Nation should know how conspirators are creating a life threat for Imran Khan,” she tweeted.
Islamabad police vow action against ‘false allegations’
Earlier, the Islamabad Capital Territory Police (ICT) responded to warnings issued by PTI Chairman Imran Khan against the capital police a day ago, saying “anyone threatening the police or making false accusations will be dealt with according to the law”.
Reacting to the PTI chief’s statement, the capital police said in a tweet that it will continue to perform its duties “diligently”.
It said the police had taken an oath “to serve the nation at all times”.
“All officers are rendering their services with complete responsibility and continue to discharge them. The police is an organised institution and we are bound to perform our duties come what may,” the ICT said.
It added that the police could not indulge in any mismanagement.
The capital police reiterated that it will take lawful action against “all false allegations”.
PTI chief slammed for ‘threatening a judge’
Earlier, Sanaullah said Imran would have to face the law for “threatening and hurling abuse” at the magistrate and police officers.
In a tweet, the minister said the PTI chief will not be allowed “to challenge the writ of the state by inciting rebellion”.
Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb said the PTI chairman had become a “threat” for Pakistan and its security.
“By challenging national institutions and the state writ, he is inciting the people to violence, lawlessness, rebellion and riot. Imran Khan wants a civil war in the country,” she tweeted.
Federal Minister for Railways and Aviation Khwaja Saad Rafique also lashed out at the PTI chief for attacking a magistrate and police in his speech, saying the judicial action was inevitable after he “openly threatened” the judge.
PPP leader Farhatullah Babar also censured the ex-PM for hurling a threat at law enforcement personnel and a judge.
“Naming a woman judge and threatening her publicly for alleged transgression but calling powerful transgressors merely as X and Y is not courage,” he tweeted.
Pemra bans live broadcast of Imran’s speeches
Soon after Imran’s speech, the electronic media regulator slapped a ban on all satellite TV channels from carrying the PTI chief’s speeches live.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) communiqué — issued late at night — held that channels had failed to implement a time-delay mechanism which could curtail such occurrences.
In a four-page document that included a specific reference to Imran’s speech on Saturday night, where he had targeted police and judicial officers, the regulator said that only recorded speeches could be telecast, and those too would only be allowed if a time-delay mechanism was in place.