Monday, March 20, 2023
Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi Monday said he had given a “free hand” to the police to establish the writ of the state in the province — a move that comes in the wake of an outbreak of politically-motivated hostilities that turned a posh neighbourhood of the provincial capital into a warzone.
Supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) clashed with police in Lahore last week as they attempted to arrest party chairman Imran Khan at his home, and later with police in Islamabad as he arrived to appear before a court on Saturday.
CM Naqvi, during a press conference, shared that he was, earlier, asking the law enforcement agencies to hold back but would no longer do so.
"We are also forming a JIT on the incidents that happened in the last five to seven days," said Naqvi.
“Right now it is really important to establish the writ of the state and writ of the government,” said the interim CM. He added that law enforcement agencies had reached the gate of Khan’s residence twice but he called them back.
The caretaker CM said that the reason he asked them to return was that he did not want “anything to happen” that would ruin the environment or cause a loss of life.
Naqvi also shared that when the police cleared Canal Road, a cop returning from duty was attacked and an Elite Force car was attacked the same night.
“We told the policemen this morning that you can do what you want to do establish the writ of the government. If anyone challenges the police, they will break their hand,” said the CM.
He added that it was not possible that the cops could continue getting a beating just because he had asked them to hold themselves back.
“We have to establish the writ of the government at all costs. I am standing by the police force. If anyone takes law into their hands now they will be given a response they will never forget,” said CM Naqvi.
He added that the kind of “terrorism” the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was perpetrating was not what political parties did.
“They are terrorists. A joint investigation team will be formed and a notification will be issued by evening,” said the caretaker CM. He also added that the interim provincial government was writing a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) for sharing details about the incidents in the province.
He said the PTI Chairman Imran Khan was openly threatening policemen with dire consequences.
“Police cannot provide him security while he is cursing them. They can hold a public rally wherever they want but the law enforcers who they have been vilifying will not protect them anymore,” said the interim CM.
Imran Khan, a former cricket star, was prime minister from 2018 until 2022 when he was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote. Since then he has been demanding a snap election and holding protest rallies across the country to press his case.
His successor as prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, has rejected his demand and said an election would be held as scheduled later this year.
Khan, 70, is facing several legal cases, including one that prompted a failed attempt to arrest him on Tuesday after a court issued warrants for his arrest for not appearing before it.
Clashes between Khan's supporters and the security forces have brought a new round of political chaos to Pakistan, which is in the midst of a crippling economic crisis.