Lax security gives PTI activists a free hand in Islamabad

Published March 1, 2023
PTI workers accompany party chief as his vehicles arrives at Islamabad’s judicial complex on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
PTI workers accompany party chief as his vehicles arrives at Islamabad’s judicial complex on Tuesday. — DawnNewsTV
CDA’s sanitary workers clear the road of rose petals outside the Judicial Complex in Islamabad’s G-11 sector after PTI Chairman Imran Khan appeared before the banking and anti-terrorism courts on Tuesday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
CDA’s sanitary workers clear the road of rose petals outside the Judicial Complex in Islamabad’s G-11 sector after PTI Chairman Imran Khan appeared before the banking and anti-terrorism courts on Tuesday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
  • Supporters, as well as unknown armed men, storm judicial complex
  • Police detain 35 people, thrash journalists covering Imran’s appearance

ISLAMABAD: As former prime minister Imran Khan arrived at the judicial complex to secure bail in multiple cases, fragile security measures put in place by the police provided Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) supporters and some “unidentified individuals” who were armed with automatic weapons to storm the complex without facing resistance from police.

The visit of the police chief and the DIG Operations failed to boost security measures as they remained inadequate giving supporters who had accompanied Mr Khan a free hand to enter the complex.

However, the police were quick to beat up a number of journalists who had converged at the Islamabad High Court for the coverage of the PTI chief’s visit.

Police officials told Dawn that the capital police imposed “fragile security measures” in and around the judicial complex as mere 64 police were deployed at the main entrance of the complex.

A party of 18 policemen was posted at the back gate whereas a similar number of police officials were deployed in front of the complex, they added. The anti-riot unit deployed by the police had 18 members only and they were deployed without their gear.

Though, as a pre-emptive measure, barbed wire was laid in front of the complex and 39 armed personnel – 29 FC and 10 policemen – were deployed on the premises of the complex, including the porch, main gate, judges’ entry gate, other entry points and the rooftop, they added.

On other hand, at least 240 personnel, including 50 Counter-Terrorism Department officials and 54 ARU members equipped with teargas were deployed at the district and sessions courts in Islamabad, they said, adding that later the contingent was moved to the Islamabad High Court.

The officials claimed that the police were laid back to provide “easy access to the PTI supporters and the activists to the complex so more cases could be registered against the leaders and activists of the former ruling party.

The officials said at least two dozen persons, some of them armed with Kalashnikov and pistols, were picked up from near the vehicle of Imran Khan and the complex premises.

As per the security plan, the police deployed in and around the complex were directed to intercept journalists on the spot for the coverage. As a result, a contingent of police thrashed and injured a few mediapersons in the presence of DIG Operations Shehzad Nadeem Bukhari, who also participated in the manhandling, as Imran Khan arrived on the premises.

25 people detained

In a statement on Twitter, the police said people who barged inside are being identified through CCTV cameras.

“Action would also be taken against those who opened the complex’s gate from the inside,” the spokesperson added.

A case was registered against suspects on different charges, including 7-ATA (Anti-Terrorism Act) and Section 353 of the Pakistan Penal Code. The police statement said that leaders of a political party incited the mob to create a law and order situation.

It further said the police have arrested 25 people and Kalashnikovs and pistols were recovered from some of them.

“They are yet to be identified, besides their affiliation is also being ascertained,” the police PRO added.

A press release issued by the National Press Club strongly condemned the manhandling of senior journalists as it demanded legal action against those involved in the incident and the officer who ordered it.

Visit after four months

Earlier, a large number of workers and supporters arrived at the Motorway toll plaza, Kashmir Highway and other places to welcome former prime minister Imran Khan who returned to the federal capital after a gap of over four months.

While some of the supporters came along with Mr Khan from Lahore, a large number of workers hailed from Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Murree, Attock, and other nearby areas.

Former MNA Ali Nawaz Awan, while taking to Dawn, said the federal government wanted to arrest Mr Khan on Tuesday but the PTI supporters foiled the bid by turning up in such large numbers.

“The show was unprecedented and it proved that the PTI is the most popular political party in Pakistan. It is the same city in which Nawaz Sharif and Maryam Nawaz appeared in hearings but managed to gather just a few dozen persons,” he said.

Mr Awan said that as the police failed to arrest Mr Khan, they lodged and FIR under 7ATA against him and other workers at the Ramna police station.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2023

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