PTI threatens mass protests as police attempt to arrest Imran from Zaman Park residence

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Lahore, MAR 5: Islamabad Police along with their Punjab Police counterparts on Sunday reached PTI chairman Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore to take him into custody for his persistent absences from Toshakhana court hearings.

The 70-year-old former prime minister, who has been recovering from a gunshot injury from an assassination attempt in Wazirabad last year, has thrice skipped indictment hearings in an Islamabad sessions court in the case.


What we know so far

  • Islamabad Police have arrived at Imran’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore to arrest him
  • They were met by a large amount of PTI workers, who massed outside his residence on Fawad Chaudhry’s call
  • Non-bailable arrest warrants were issued by a sessions court judge for Imran’s persistent no-shows in Toshakhana case hearings
  • Police say those who obstruct arrest will be prosecuted
  • Islamabad police chief says won’t go back empty-handed
  • PTI is threatening mass protests if arrest goes through
  • Rana Sanaullah says Imran’s arrest was on court orders, and not the government’s

Imran is accused of allegedly concealing, in his assets declarations, details of the gifts he retained from the Toshakhana — a repository where presents handed to government officials from foreign officials are kept. Officials are legally allowed to retain gifts provided they pay a pre-assessed amount, typically a fraction of the value of the gift.

In a series of tweets today, the Islamabad Police said an operation to arrest Imran was being conducted with the cooperation of the Lahore police.

It stated that the PTI chief was “avoiding” the arrest, adding that the superintendent of police had “gone into Imran’s room but he was not present there”.

“Islamabad Police will transfer Imran Khan to Islamabad under their protection. Law is equal for all,” it said adding that legal action would be taken against those obstructing the execution of court orders.

Separately, Islamabad Inspector General of Police (IGP) Akbar Nasir said that the police had delivered the court’s notice to Imran and confirmed that it had to be received.

“Now, we are requesting him [Imran] to come with us,” he said in an interview. “With a lot of respect, we have requested Imran Khan to come with us so that the court’s orders can be obeyed and Imran can be presented in court.”

He said that both Islamabad and Lahore’s police teams were present outside the ex-premier’s house and won’t leave without arresting him.

“Police’s work is to implement court orders and keep the law and order situation intact. We will try our best that he [Imran] comes with us,” IGP Nasir added.

Footage on television show police officials in Islamabad Police uniform as well as Punjab Police being held back by PTI workers outside the Zaman Park residence.

A little later, Punjab police reinforcements could also be seen arriving outside Imran’s house.

Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal on Feb 28, issued non-bailable arrest warrants for the PTI chief when he failed to appear in person for the indictment. Imran had four in-person court hearings that day, and managed to secure bail in three of the four cases.

The warrant, a copy of which is available with, stated that Imran had repetitively failed to appear before the court. “The accused is making a pick and choose for courts and cases and this case is not included in his priority.”

“The accused be summoned through a non-bailable warrant of arrest for March 7,” it added.

‘A banana republic’
While the police were outside his residence, Imran took the time out to tweet about how a country “becomes a banana republic”.

“What future can a country have when crooks are thrust as rulers upon it? SS [Shehbaz Sharif] was about to be convicted by NAB (National Accountability Bureau) for Rs8 bn money laundering and by FIA (Federal Investigation Agency) for another Rs16 bn corruption when he was rescued by Gen Bajwa who kept getting NAB cases trial postponed,” he said.

The PTI chief went on to say that while Shehbaz was under trial, he was made the prime minister.

“He has since proceeded to select heads of those institutions investigating his cases — first FIA and now NAB — simply to get his name permanently cleared in Rs16 bn corruption and Rs8 bn money laundering cases against him.

“This is how a country becomes a banana republic,” he added.

Fawad warns of countrywide protests if ‘red line’ crossed
In a press conference outside Imran’s residence, PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said that the Islamabad Police had arrived at the ex-premier’s residence to execute his arrest in the Toshakhana case.

PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry talks to media outside Zaman Park in Lahore. —
“There are 74 cases against Imran. It is humanly not possible for any person to appear in court in all these cases,” he said, claiming that Imran’s arrest was aimed at postponing the upcoming general elections in Punjab.

Fawad stated that Imran had always respected the judiciary and appeared before courts whenever he was called. “But they want Imran Khan to go to court so that terrorists can target him again.”

He then called on party workers across the country to prepare. “If they cross the red line, there will be a protest that Pakistan has never seen before,” Fawad added.

On the other hand, PTI vice-chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi asked supporters not to panic.

“The notice [presented by the police] does not have any arrest orders. Imran Khan and our legal team will hold a meeting at 2:30pm and then announce our plan of action,” he stated.

The party, Qureshi went on to say, will follow the legal process in this regard.

“We are a political party and we will have a political approach to this situation as well. You need to not worry but stay cautioned. We will meet Imran Khan right now,” he added.

In response to a question, Qureshi said that the only concern the party had was related to Imran’s security.

Later in a second media talk, Fawad claimed the police would be committing contempt of court if they arrest Imran.

“The attempt to arrest Imran Khan is only being carried out so that people can die,” he said, urging PTI workers to remain completely peaceful.

Fawad claimed the IG and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah want a clash to take place at Zaman Park. “Lahore police is being sent here to tear gas people so that people here react,” the PTI leader said. “They are deliberately trying to create an untoward situation”.

The former federal minister said: “They want to arrest Imran Khan so that the public of Pakistan can be jailed.”

He claimed that the courts had already halted the arrest of Imran.

Meanwhile, PTI leader Hammad Azhar called on PTI supporters in Lahore to converge on the Zaman Park residence.

Arrest on court orders, not govt orders: Sanaullah
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said that Imran was being arrested on the court’s orders and not the government’s order.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah speaks to the media in Faisalabad on Sunday. —
“The police have only come to uphold the court’s order. If they had to arrest Imran at all costs, PTI burgers wouldn’t be an obstacle,” he claimed, adding that if the government had decided to arrest the PTI chief, “it would not have been a difficult feat”.

The minister further stated that Imran should be arrested as per court’s orders, punished and then disqualified.

Separately, PML-N chief organiser Maryam Nawaz has asked her father and party supremo Nawaz Sharif to lend some of his courage to Imran Khan.

Earlier in a tweet, PML-N leader Attaullah Tarar said that the PTI chief was “panicking after seeing his [possible] arrest and the nature of the cases against him”.

“There is only one way to change the conditions — dragging him by the ear and putting him in jail,” he added.

Toshakhana Reference
Imran was set to be indicted in the Toshakhana Reference on Feb 28, but his lawyer had requested ADSJ Iqbal that he be exempted from the hearing because he had to appear in several other courts. His indictment was deferred twice before.

The judge had then issued arrest warrants for Imran and adjourned the hearing till March 7.

The reference, which alleges that Imran had not shared details of the gifts he retained from the Toshaskhana (during his time as the prime minister) and proceeds from their reported sales, was filed by lawmakers from the ruling coalition last year. On October 21, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) had concluded that the former premier had indeed made “false statements and incorrect declarations” regarding the gifts.

The Toshakhana is a department under the Cabinet Division that stores gifts given to rulers and government officials by heads of other governments and foreign dignitaries. According to Toshakhana rules, gifts/presents and other such materials received by persons to whom these rules apply shall be reported to the Cabinet Division.

The watchdog’s order had said Imran stood disqualified under Article 63(1)(p) of the Constitution.

Subsequently, the ECP had approached the Islamabad sessions court with a copy of the reference, seeking proceedings against Imran under criminal law for allegedly misleading officials about the gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his tenure as the prime minister.