May 18, 2023
ISLAMABAD – Punjab Caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir on Wednesday said around “30 to 40 terrorists” who allegedly attacked military installations in the wake of PTI chief Imran Khan’s arrest last week were being sheltered inside Zaman Park and the party leadership has 24 hours to hand them over.
“We have intelligence that some 30 to 40 terrorists who were involved in attacking our army’s buildings and installations are hiding at Zaman Park,” said Mir, referring to the Lahore neighbourhood where Imran lives.
Imran was whisked away from the IHC premises by paramilitary forces on May 9, leading to violent protests across the country. Some protesters breached the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, while others ransacked and eventually set on fire the corps commander’s residence in Lahore. The military has described the events as a “black chapter”.
In his presser today, Mir alleged that the people involved in the corps commander’s residence were in contact with the PTI leadership.
He said the party leadership had 24 hours to surrender the suspects, and that “the law would come into action” if they did not comply.
Imran Khan’s residence was the scene of pitched battles in March when PTI supporters clashed with police when they attempted to arrest him in the Toshakhana case.
“The handlers of these attacks who were there were in contact with them (PTI leaders),” Mir said. A joint investigation team (JIT) has also been formed to investigate the events of May 9, he said.
Mir said the total number of arrests so far had exceeded 3,400 with a total of 254 registered cases, out of which 78 were handed to investigators on physical remand and 609 on judicial remand.
“The arrests are ongoing and the identification of these people will continue until the last person is in custody,” Mir said.
He added that the suspect would then be presented in military and anti-terrorism courts as previously decided by the civil and military leadership on Tuesday.
‘Police had instructions to not use guns during protest’
Mir also stated that the Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi had issued directives to the police to not use weapons against the protesters.
“The fundamental reason for this was that he did not want anyone to die,” he added.
With regard to the investigations, Mir said the chief minister had given clear instructions to ensure that no innocent person is wrongly accused of these crimes.
“Complete scrutiny is being done on the detainees and their cases are only forwarded after 100 per cent confirmation,” he added.
Mir alleged that the “attacks” on May 9 were “pre-planned” by the PTI leadership as a consequence of Khan’s arrest.
“It is safe to say, like the TTP (Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan), the PTI is also taking up the role of a non-state actor,” he added.