Police mount pressure on Imran ahead of deadline to hand over suspects

Police - The News Today - TNT

LAHORE: Lahore Police kept up their siege around the home of Imran Khan as a 24-hour deadline given to the former premier to hand over suspects allegedly sheltered inside was about to expire on Thursday.

The siege and the authorities’ demand for the suspects, wanted in violent protests over Imran Khan’s recent detention, has angered the former prime minister’s followers and is raising concerns about more clashes between them and the security forces.

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Last week, Imran Khan’s supporters allegedly attacked public property and military installations after he was dragged out of a courtroom and arrested. At least 10 people were killed in clashes with police across the country. The violence subsided only when Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered Imran Khan’s release.

Dozens of his supporters have been staying there with him, along with private guards. Police, who on Wednesday surrounded the residence, say they want 40 suspects handed over. The ultimatum for Imran Khan ends at 2pm.

According to Amir Mir, a spokesman for the Punjab government, police were ready to use firearms if attacked. He told a news conference on Thursday that at least 3,400 suspects linked to the clashes had been arrested and that more raids were planned. Earlier, on Wednesday night, Amir Mir, the caretaker information minister, said the government had no intention to arrest PTI chief Imran Khan until the 24-hour deadline was met.

He said the provincial caretaker setup would reveal its plans after the expiry of the deadline. “The deadline will expire at 2pm tomorrow (Thursday),” he added.

Earlier, the caretaker Punjab government gave a 24-hour deadline to the PTI to hand over “30 to 40 terrorists” who, it claimed, were hiding at Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore to police.

The warning came from caretaker Information Minister Aamir Mir who addressed a presser in the provincial capital. The minister said the PTI had started behaving like a non-state actor as its chief had been targeting the military for more than one year.

He claimed that attacks on military installations and at other places were carried out during May 9 violent protests under a plan, saying the government had adopted a “zero tolerance policy” towards it.

Amir Mir told reporters that interim Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi had given a “free hand” to the Punjab police to deal with “arsonists”.

The interim minister said it had been decided that those who attacked military installations would be tried in military courts. He said no innocent person would be penalised as all cases were being forwarded after confirmation. He said the “PTI miscreants” crossed the red line on May 9. He said more than 3,400 attackers had been arrested and 254 cases registered.

Read more: Army vows to try ‘violent protesters, abettors’ under military law

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