‘Still time to sit and talk’, says Imran as he fears raid at Zaman Park

LAHORE, May 17: Former prime minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan on Wednesday invited all stakeholders to sit and talk while there was still time as he fears another arrest during a raid at his residence in Lahore’s Zaman Park.

“Probably my last tweet before my next arrest. Police has surrounded my house,” he wrote on his official Twitter handle while sharing live link to his address to party supporters on YouTube.

Meanwhile, the police have blocked traffic coming from Mall Road to Zaman Park. Heavy police force is deployed near Zaman Park, Dharmpura Bridge, Allama Iqbal Road, Mall Road, and Garhi Shahu Canal Road areas of the city.

Policemen wearing bulletproof jackets armed with batons are present with their mobile vans. An unusual rush of traffic on Dharmapura Bridge is witnessed as policemen are standing alert on the roadside.

The police are searching big vehicles coming from Canal Road to Mall Road and Zaman Park.

According to sources, vehicles displaying PTI flags are being stopped and party workers present inside are being detained. A few vehicles were not allowed to go towards Zaman Park due to party flags.

“There is still time. Talk and be wise. The only solution to this crisis is elections. Those who can make elections happen, I appeal to them save the country by holding elections,” Imran said while addressing party supporters shortly after his tweet.

On reports of PTI leaders leaving party, he said: “If someone is thinking this strategy will work, look at this,” said Imran as he points towards a sheet in which it was depicted that 70 per cent of people supported PTI.

“The party which has 70% popularity you cannot finish it. PDM only wants to pit army against PTI. Everyone should realise what is happening and have some sense,” he added.

“This (confrontation between PTI and military) will cause a huge backlash which would be damaging to the country,” he added.

Imran said that his party workers tried to stop people from burning down the fighter jet model erracted at Jahaz Chowk in Mianwali but the miscreants did not stop.

“We’re going to the high court soon to form a judicial commission as we have evidence now. We saw people everywhere who did not belong to our party and had pistols. They were instigating people to attack the Corp Commander’s house,” he claimed.

He also claimed that 25 people belonging to his party have been killed so far in the protests whereas 700 others with bullet wounds are hospitalised and 7,500 were in prison including women.

“I have heard 40 terrorists are in my house and we have given them refuge. If there are 40 terrorists here then my life is in danger as well. Please do come here but in a civilised manner not like you’re attacking. It might be good for me too. Don’t make it an excuse to attack,” he added.

The former prime minister said that whatever happened on May 9 was part of a plan. “IG Punjab should be called for what happened at Jinnah House. From Liberty Chowk [in Lahore] people were moving to Jinnah House but no one stopped them. In a fair investigation, all will be revealed.”

He said that they wanted to attack Jinnah House as an excuse to ban PTI and put leaders behind bars.

“How did Radio Pakistan get burned? The protest was happening someplace else but Radio Pakistan gets burned down. It is easy to identify faces these days with facial recognition. You can use NADRA’s data and identify people but that can only happen through an independent investigation.

Imran claimed to have defended the army worldwide, emphasising that criticising the army is akin to criticising his own children.

He said that Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) was over the moon due to the current situation as they think it will cause delay in elections. “PDM is doing what was done in East Pakistan,” he claimed.

“They reached my residence on March 14. They attacked my house for 24 hours. Did I say attack?” Khan stated. “APC [armoured personnel carrier] smashed gate of my house where my wife was alone. Did I say anything?” he continued, highlighting the dangers his family faced during the raid.

Refuting any claims of instigating violence, Khan stated, “When they tried to assassinate me, did I order anyone to attack them? They arrested me as if I was a terrorist.”

The former prime minister expressed deep disappointment and frustration over what he termed unjust treatment he faced, asserting his innocence in the face of the accusations.

On Tuesday last week, dozens of troops of paramilitary Rangers broke into an office of the IHC and whisked Imran away in an armoured vehicle in a whirlwind raid while executing the arrest warrant issued against the former premier by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in the Al-Qadir Trust case.

Later, the Supreme Court termed his arrest as “invalid and unlawful” and referred the matter back to the IHC which had earlier accepted the arrest as “legal”.

In an unprecedented show of vandalism, PTI supporters attacked and caused damage to the historic Corps’ Commander’s House — originally known as Jinnah House and which once served as the residence of the founding father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah — hours after the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested PTI chief Imran Khan.

Pictures and videos from the historic building showed that all the rooms, halls, drawing rooms, living rooms, walls, curtains, doors, wooden ceilings, and even the floor had been burnt by the protesters.

The 130-year-old building of the Military Engineering Services, a few furlongs away from Corps’ Commander House, was also set on fire, where valuable records, furniture, and vehicles were set ablaze.

In the aftermath of widespread rioting and protests following Imran’s arrest, several party leaders including Fawad Chaudhry, Asad Umar, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Dr Yasmeen Rashid, Shireen Mazari, Maleeka Bukhari and Fayyazul Hassan Chauhan, among others, were taken into custody.

Soon after the protests, PTI leaders and workers landed in hot waters as not only they were arrested but country’s civil and military leadership vowed to try those involved in ransacking the military installations under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act.

The civil-military leadership has also decided to observe May 9 as “Black Day” at the national level.

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