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Law enforcers withdraw from Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence
ISLAMABAD: Police and other law enforcers withdrew from Imran Khan’s Zaman Park house in Lahore on Wednesday, ending clashes that erupted after police tried to arrest the former prime minister for failing to appear in court in the Toshahana case.
Law enforcement personnel were seen leaving the Lahore neighborhood following clashes with supporters of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), while earlier today attempts were renewed to arrest the party’s chairman.
It is not yet clear whether the security forces have completed the court-ordered operation to arrest Imran. After they withdrew, the PTI chief was seen standing outside his home wearing a gas mask and talking to supporters.
After the retreat, PTI supporters were seen celebrating ‘victory’ and raising slogans in support of party chief Imran.
Meanwhile, the Islamabad High Court has upheld former prime minister Imran Khan’s warrant of arrest without bail, while ordering the PTI chairman to produce an undertaking before the trial court on Thursday (tomorrow) in the Toshahana criminal case.
Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Amir Farooq dismissed a plea to quash Imran Khan’s order while passing the reserved order.
The court directed Imran Khan to file an application in this regard before the trial court and attach the undertaking given in the high court to the trial court.
The LHC halts work at Zaman Park pending a decision by the IHC
Earlier, Lahore High Court Justice Tariq Salim Shaikh had restrained the police officials from continuing the operation at Zaman Park pending the Islamabad High Court’s decision on Imran Khan’s arrest warrant in the Toshahana non-bailable case.
The Justice Sheikh was hearing various petitions, including pleas seeking a safe way for the petitioner Imran Khan to reach the LHC to obtain protective bails in various FIRs and to stop the “crimes” of the police officers inflicted on the petitioner Imran Khan, his political party and its leadership as well as the general public.
Police continued to fire tear gas and use water cannons against defiant workers and PTI supporters as fresh gunfire erupted in the morning as law enforcement intensified their operation in a nearly 24-hour standoff.
CCPO Lahore Bilal Siddique Kamyana and DIG Operations Lahore Afzal Kausar also reached the area to lead the operation. A large contingent of Punjab Rangers – in riot gear – was assisting the police.
On Tuesday evening, the provincial government requested three companies of Punjab Rangers to reinforce the police contingent.
PTI’s official Twitter handle stated that open firing by Rangers and police had begun with Imran’s residence under “extreme attack”.
Rangers are also present in Mall Road near former prime minister Zaman Park’s residence – blocking access to the area. The post of the traffic supervisor and some vehicles were set on fire.
Meanwhile, a group of lawyers is also marching towards Zaman Park.
According to Express News, mobile and internet services have been suspended in Zaman Park neighborhood and surrounding areas. Educational institutions located around Mall Road remain closed while a state of emergency has been imposed in hospitals.
Meanwhile, Imran Khan claimed that “the demand for arrest was mere drama because [the] the real intent is kidnapping and assassination.”
He added that after tear gas and water cannons, the police “resorted to live fire.”
“I signed a bond last evening but the DIG refused to even entertain it. There is no doubt about their unfaithful intent.”
In a series of tweets, the PTI chief said there were “Rangers taking control” and in “direct confrontation with the people”.
He asked the establishment “who claimed to be neutral” if that was their idea of ”neutrality”.
“Rangers are directly confronting unarmed protesters and the leadership of a major political party when their leader faces an illegal warrant and a case already in court and when [a] a government of crooks [is] trying to kidnap and possibly kill him?’