LAHORE, May 19 : Former prime minister Imran Khan on Thursday gave local and international media an unfettered access to his Zaman Park residence in a bid to falsify Punjab caretaker government’s claim that dozens of miscreants involved in 9 May rioting were hiding at his house.
All the roads leading to the residence of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief were blocked for any kind of traffic after the Punjab government on Wednesday accused him of sheltering 30-40 miscreants.
The caretaker government had given the former premier a 24 hours ultimatum to hand over those people to authorities. Imran Khan feared that the government wanted to arrest him while raiding his house on the pretext of arresting the so-called rioter.
The government’s ultimatum and Imran’s tweet on Wednesday brought a legion of journalists to Zaman Park to capture some crucial moments—a raid and possible arrest of Imran.
But unexpectedly, the media that had arrived outside Imran Khan’s residence anticipating a raid were allowed entry into Zaman Park as if they were going to have an interaction with Imran Khan
However, this time they had been invited for a different reason.
The PTI security team allowed the journalists to roam around the residence and counter check the veracity of the claims made by the Punjab government. One digital media house was even allowed entry into the private area of the house to document every inch of it.
Later on Thursday, the same routine was followed as journalists were granted entry to Imran Khan’s residence which until a few days ago was a heavily guarded place where only a select few could enter after prior approval.
None of the police personnel, previously deputed around the residence to provide security to the former premier who has survived an attempt on his life, was visible at their usual spots. Police could only be seen at the pickets established in the vicinity of Zaman Park, a locality of 42 houses.
Journalists initially sat in the two tents that were used as makeshift waiting areas. Later one by one they went around the house, and to their surprise no one stopped them. A few went towards the lawn area, where three more tents were erected to accommodate around ten to fifteen people.
Some journalists went to the rear of the house, where a spiral staircase led them to the balcony on the first floor. Across the balcony there were around four rooms, used by Imran’s private guards.
There was a wooden ladder on the balcony, leading to the rooftop. On the rooftop, there was another tent for guards. From there one could have a 360 degree view of the entire house–a view of even those corners of the compound that are kept off limits to ensure privacy of Imran and his wife.
Imran Khan also addressed the media in the evening, a speech in which he struck a defiant tone, claiming that he would stand his ground even if all abandoned him.
He said the media’s presence at Zaman Park had foiled the government’s plan to once again vandalize his house in the name of a raid and plant things here as they had done during the previous raid.
He said the government should name the forty terrorists that it claims are hiding in his house.
Imran said this high handedness of the government could not weaken his party. However, he condemned the mistreatment of women at the hand of police claiming that it was sad to see how they treated the female family members of the PTI leaders and workers.
Police earlier in the day claimed that they had arrested eight miscreants, who were trying to flee Imran Khan’s residence. A video of these arrests was also shared with the media.
Caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir, when asked if the government had any evidence that the miscreants had escaped from Imran’s residence, said the footage substantiated the claim.
When asked if there was any footage showing where they were coming from and which house they had left, he said since these people are to be prosecuted under the Pakistan Army Act 1952, their credentials could not be shared.