LAHORE: Anti-corruption and police officials raided the residence of PTI President Chaudhry Parvez Elahi in Lahore to arrest him late on Friday night.
The raiding team used an armoured vehicle to break open the main gate of the former Punjab chief minister’s Gulberg residence and arrested 12 people, mostly his employees, from the house. Female police officers also took some women into custody.
TV footage showed that riot police officials entered the house and used batons to beat the employees of the Elahi family.
The police officials thoroughly searched the house but could not find Mr Elahi. They also tried to force their entry into the adjoining residence of PML-Q President Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, but they were resisted by Mr Shujaat’s sons.
Armoured vehicle used to break open gate of PTI leader’s Lahore house; cops arrest 12 people, try to enter Shujaat’s home
The search operation continued until at least 2am on Saturday and the police failed to lay hands on Mr Elahi, who was said to not be in the house.
The Anti-Corruption Establishment said that its Gujranwala team had arrived at Mr Elahi’s house to arrest him in a corruption case.
While Mr Elahi’s legal team said that his pre-arrest bail had already been taken from a court until May 6, the ACE team insisted that Mr Elahi was required in a new case and they would not leave without arresting the PTI leader.
Mr Elahi’s lawyers assured the ACE officials about the bail and also connected them with a court official by phone, but the raising team refused to budge.
“Punjab police is at our residence to arrest my father right now in a case for which he got bail today. His bail hearing was covered by all media outlets,” Moonis Elahi, Mr Elahi’s son and a former federal minister, tweeted around midnight.
He added that PTI Chairman Imran Khan “is absolutely right: Rule of Law has ended in Pakistan”.
The PTI also strongly condemned the raid at Mr Elahi’s house and described it as a step to sabotage the ongoing talks with the government over elections.
“Strongly condemn the illegal raid on Pervez Elahi’s home with no respect to the women and family members present,” PTI chief Imran Khan tweeted past midnight on Saturday.
“We are seeing the dismantling of democracy in Pak before our eyes. There is no respect for Constitution, SC verdicts, or fundamental rights of the [people] — only law of jungle,” the former premier said.
PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry wondered how talks with the government and such arrests could go hand in hand. “Raid at Chaudhry Parvez Elahi’s house show that Ishaq Dar, Saad Rafique and Azam Tarar have no value in their party. We strongly condemn the raid,” he said in a tweet.
Former Punjab Assembly speaker Sibtain Khan described the police raid as “state terrorism” and said that the Punjab police had violated the sanctity of ‘chadar and char dewari’ — a metaphor used to show women’s dignity and one’s protection inside the four walls of the house.
“This fascism must stop,” he demanded.
Published in Dawn, April 29th, 2023