LAHORE: Law-enforcement agencies (LEAs), especially police, strategically retreated after a fresh round of clashes erupted between protesters and law enforcers on Wednesday after another attempt is being made to arrest PTI Chairman Imran Khan to implement arrest warrants issued by an Islamabad court in the Toshakhana case over no show-up.
The decision to take a pause has been taken to ensure smooth conduct of the Pakistan Super League playoff match at Gaddafi Stadium.
Earlier in the day, a heavy contingent of police and rangers advanced towards the residence of the former premier in Zaman Park, with party workers and supporters pelting them with stones. In reaction, the security officials fired tear gas shells to disperse them while water cannons were also part of the operation.
The capital city of Punjab has seen violent since Tuesday when a team of the Islamabad police, with a backup of Punjab police and rangers, tried to take the defiant politician into custody. More than 60 people, including the DIG Operations of Islamabad police, have been injured in the clashes.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan has, in an indirect message, urged the Establishment to take stock of the situation and shed neutrality. In a tweet, he wrote: “My house has been under heavy attack since yesterday afternoon. Latest attack by Rangers, pitting the largest pol[itical] party against the army. This is what PDM and the enemies of Pakistan want. No lessons learnt from the East Pakistan tragedy”.
The PTI shared a video on its Twitter handle, showing Imran Khan meeting his party workers and encouraging them as they are hell-bent on blocking his arrest.
The former prime minister was ousted from office by a no-confidence vote last year, and has been snarled in a series of legal cases, including Toshakhana as he calls for early elections in the country.
Police Fought Pitched Battles With PTI Supporters Throughout the Night
Police fought pitched battles with supporters of the PTI near his Zaman Park residence throughout the night, firing fusillades of teargas and dodging stones thrown by angry crowds.
Speaking to reporters, DIG Operations of Islamabad police, Shahzad Bokhari, who was clad in riot gear, said the team had arrived to arrest the PTI chief. He said police had warrants for the arrest of Imran Khan who failed to appear before the court. Reports said the DIG was injured amid the police’s clash with the PTI activists who pelted stones. He was later shifted to the hospital for treatment. Several other policemen were injured and taken to the Services Hospital for treatment. Police also took into custody scores of assailants.
Punjab government also called Rangers to Mr Khan’s residence. Senior officers of the Lahore police and personnel also made it to Zaman Park to effectively tackle the mob. A helicopter flew over the area for aerial surveillance in the evening.
Imran Khan issued a video shortly before dawn, sitting in front of Pakistan and PTI flags at a desk decorated with spent teargas canisters.
“I am telling the entire nation today that they are ready once again, they’re going to come again,” he said.
“They will teargas our people and do other such things, but you should know that they have no justification to do so.”
Read more: Several injured as Police, PTI supporters clash in Lahore