• Shibli tells Islamabad police team PTI chief ‘not available’ at home
• Imran wants Toshakhana proceedings televised
• Interior minister says govt not interested in arresting ex-PM
LAHORE / ISLAMABAD: A team of Islamabad police sent to Lahore to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan for skipping proceedings in the Toshakhana case returned empty-handed after the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman evaded the arrest.
Shortly after the police returned, the PTI chief addressed his supporters at his Zaman Park residence where the contingent supported by the Lahore police had arrived to take him to the federal capital.
The Islamabad police shared on Twitter that their team had arrived in the provincial capital to arrest the former premier and that action would be taken against anyone who tried to obstruct the arrest. The official handle of the police also informed that Imran Khan would be shifted to Islamabad, as all citizens were equal before the law. The police stated that the PTI chief was “avoiding” the arrest, adding that the officer leading the team had “gone into Imran’s room but he was not present there”.
Eventually, the team decided to call off the “operation” since PTI leader Shibli Faraz, who is also Mr Khan’s chief of staff, informed that the PTI chairman was “not available”.
As he received the summons, the PTI leader said that the party chief would comply with legal processes.
Later in the day, Imran Khan’s presence at his residence was confirmed as he spoke to supporters from the same location. In response, the Islamabad police said action would be taken against Senator Faraz for “misrepresenting facts” in the way of legal action.
It may be noted that as per video making rounds on social media, the police also faced resistance from supporters gathered outside the residence of the PTI chairman who did not allow them to enter the house in a posh locality of Lahore.
Meanwhile, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told media persons that the PTI chief was already on protective bail from Islamabad High Court (IHC) until March 9 and added that “this venture holds no legal ground”. He claimed that if the police would arrest Imran Khan it would be tantamount to contempt of court.
Decoding the “game plan” of the federal government, Mr Chaudhry explained to party workers that the government wanted to arrest Imran Khan to create unrest in the country. “The party workers must not take law into their own hands and maintain peace,” he advised. He said the party’s leaders and workers were courting arrests and Imran Khan too was not afraid of jail but he was facing threats from those in corridors of power.
‘Threats to life’
Addressing party leaders and workers on the lawn of his residence, the PTI chief said his lawyers would write a letter to the Chief Justice of Pakistan explaining that he was facing life threats.
“I am being called to appear before the courts in ‘farcical’ cases like a terrorism case with regard to a protest outside the Election Commission of Pakistan office while I was at my home,” Mr Khan said and added that he had been booked in some 74 cases. “I appeared before the LHC and courts in Islamabad but no security was provided to me,” he complained.
Referring to the Toshakhana case, the former premier said proceedings should be televised. “If proceedings of the Toshakhana case are aired on TV, people will know that Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari are the real dacoits, and the only person who did not do anything against the law will turn out to be Imran Khan,” he claimed.
The PTI chief said he feared attempts on his life until PM Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, and the spy agency officer dubbed as ‘Dirty Harry’ remained in power.
He even called ‘Dirty Harry’ a psychopath for his alleged torture of PTI leaders, including Senator Azam Swati and Shahbaz Gill. “Besides these three, there is one more person who is involved in attempts on my life,” he hinted, without naming anyone.
The PTI chairman said the PDM government was out to create fear in his party through arrests and torture but they defused all such tactics by courting arrests.
He claimed that he was about to give a call for the court arrest movement across the country but the Supreme Court ruling which paved the way for general elections in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa stopped him from doing so.
Mr Khan said that Shehbaz Sharif was about to be sentenced in an Rs16 billion FIA case and Rs8 billion NAB case but he was “made the prime minister through a regime change conspiracy”.
He alleged Maryam Nawaz was also caught holding expensive properties in London’s Mayfair area and could not present a money trail for these expensive properties. “Now the Punjab police are giving protocol, using taxpayers’ money, to Maryam Nawaz in her party’s political campaign,” he regretted.
‘Govt not interested in Imran’s arrest’
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan told media persons that the government was not interested in arresting the former prime minister as the police team reached Zaman Park in compliance with court orders.
“If we would have been interested in arresting him [Imran] we would have detained him on Feb 28 when he came to Islamabad to get bail. We can even arrest him from Lahore if we want to,” the minister boasted. The minister said that the police were following the directions of the court and they will inform it that Mr Khan did not cooperate with the team.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2023