March 20, 2023
ISLAMABAD – PTI Chairman Imran Khan on Sunday said he would take legal action against Punjab police, including “every single officer” who participated in the “attack” on his Zaman Park residence in Lahore a day earlier.
A visibly irate Imran made the remarks while addressing the nation a day after hours-long clashes were reported between PTI workers and the capital police after the former prime minister arrived at the Federal Judicial Complex to attend a hearing in the Toshakhana case.
As Imran left his Zaman Park residence to appear before the judge, a heavy contingent of police also launched a search operation at his house.
Talking about the police operation at Zaman Park, Imran said officials broke down the gate and his walls while only his wife, Bushra Bibi, and a select few servants were present.
“I want to ask everyone, police, army officers, the judges of this country and the people [about] the respect of chaddor and char dewari in Islam.”
He said he wanted to address the matter last night but could not. “It was good that I didn’t because I was angry. And a person should not talk when he is angry.”
He said that officials knew that Bushra Bibi, a woman who was not involved in politics, was home alone. “To do this at someone’s home, tell me what you would have felt. I am asking my army officers. What would you have felt?” he asked, posing the same question to police officials.
Imran alleged that officials carrying out the operation “looted” his home. “Is the police supposed to loot homes? They looted whatever they found. Do you not have any shame?” he asked as he targeted Punjab Inspector General (IG) Usman Anwar and used choice words for him.
Imran accused the Punjab IG of violating the orders of the Lahore High Court (LHC), saying that he had referred to an anti-terrorism court for obtaining a search warrant even when a high court judge had already laid out the procedure for conducting a search at Zaman Park.
“Even the ATC only allowed two officials to conduct the arrest. One was the SP and another was a female police officer not below the rank of an inspector,” he said.
He said that the PTI would initiate contempt proceedings in the LHC and also take legal action against Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi in connection with the death of Ali Bilal, alias Zille Shah, a worker of the PTI.
Later in the day, PTI Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry tweeted that the party had sent a letter to the Punjab chief secretary requesting a case be registered against PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz, Naqvi, Punjab Inspector General of Police Dr Usman Anwar, Lahore Capital City Police Officer Bilal Siddique Kamyana and 18 other police officers for the “attack and robbery at Zaman Park”.
Chaudhry said the PTI had requested a judicial commission as well on the Zaman Park operations and the death of party worker Ali Bilal.
Later, he said a petition for contempt of court proceedings against Naqvi, Anwar, Kamyana and others was submitted to the Lahore High Court and it would be taken up on Monday.
Imran announces rally at Minar-i-Pakistan on Wednesday
During the address, Imran also announced that the party would stage a power show at Minar-i-Pakistan — the same venue where he launched his campaign for the 2013 elections — on Wednesday (March 22), adding that it would be a “referendum” on where the nation stood.
“Now, we are doing Minar-i-Pakistan on Wednesday. And I want the whole country to see, it will be a referendum on where the public stands. Everyone will know where the nation stands, and where the cabal of crooks and their handlers stand,” he said.
Imran had earlier announced that the power show at Minar-i-Pakistan would take place today (March 19) but the LHC had directed the PTI to reschedule its rally and have a dialogue with the administration.
In his address, Imran said that the country was “headed towards disaster” and the only way forward was conducting free and fair elections.
He said that the nation could not be controlled through force anymore as it had gained “consciousness”.
‘Police wanted to kill me’
At the outset of his address, Imran asked what exactly his crime was, saying that the entire nation knew that he always respected the law. He alleged that 96 cases had been registered against him so far.
“Whenever I leave the house, more cases are registered against me. Who is doing this? The criminals responsible for doing this to the country are the ones registering cases against me.”
He alleged that the coalition government was behind the attempt on his life in Wazirabad, adding that they had the backing of “handlers”.
Giving a rundown of the past couple of weeks, Imran said that the elections in Punjab were announced for April 30, following which the PTI decided to initiate its election campaign by holding a rally in Lahore on March 8.
“On the night of March 7, it was decided with the police how the rally would proceed and they approved it. We got permission. The next day, as we are about to start, everyone starts saying that police contingents are here and placing containers.”
He said that as police appeared clad in riot control gear, it was revealed that Section 144 had been imposed in Lahore. “When elections have been announced, how can Section 144 be imposed? Has this happened before in Pakistan’s history?”
He said that when the rally started moving towards Zaman Park, police used water cannons and tear gas against PTI workers. Subsequently, he decided to cancel the rally by 5pm because “I knew that they are trying to cause the situation deteriorate”.
Imran further said that he asked for his hearing to be shifted from an Islamabad court due to security concerns. “F-8 kachery is a death trap,” he said, adding that arrest warrants were issued for him for this reason.
He said that a huge “army” arrived at his Lahore residence over warrants issued by a magistrate. “There were constant attacks here at my home. Has this ever happened before in the history of Pakistan?”
He asked that if he just had to mark his attendance in a court in Islamabad, why was his home being attacked from three sides. “Rangers were arriving in armoured vehicles, coming in after jumping over walls like some commando action is taking place.”
Imran said that he was ready to hand himself over to the police but he was stopped from doing so by his party workers who feared harm would befall the party chief.
“Yesterday, when I left my house, I said my goodbyes to my wife. I knew that I would either be arrested or killed. With that thought in mind, I left my home.”
He said that when he reached the toll plaza, police had closed down the motorway. “Only one lane was open. They had in mind that once my car leaves, they will close it behind me so that rest of the cars cannot follow […] the whole of Islamabad was closed down as if for a major criminal.”
He alleged that the police intended to either “murder” him or take him into custody and then shift him to Balochistan.
The PTI chief said police tear gassed workers that were walking alongside his car as they “wanted a reaction”. He said that once his car reached the judicial complex, police again tear gassed workers. “I didn’t want to leave or else they would have claimed I fled.”
He said that when he was at the gate, police also started beating the workers surrounding the car. “They were waiting for me to step out of the car and then kill me.”
Sanaullah challenges Imran’s version of events
In a press conference soon after, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah challenged the PTI chief on his version of yesterday’s events and claimed the situation was otherwise.
“Don’t fool the people, tell them that two weeks before now when you took a group of armed people and attacked the Judicial Complex — what conspiracy was at play then?”
The interior minister questioned why Imran wanted to take the mob of 300-400 people with him inside the Judicial Complex on Saturday and asked what situation could have arisen if they had entered.
Sanaullah questioned Imran about how the PTI’s actions yesterday and the party chairman’s alleged refusal to answer the accusations against him matched up with his insistence on the rule of law.
“You will have to answer for the theft in the Toshakhana case.”
The interior minister also raised concern about the upcoming provincial elections and said no one would accept their results since it would mean the presence of elected provincial governments during the general elections.