Police fail to arrest Parvez Elahi in late-night raid at Lahore residence

Operation lasted nearly eight hours, Imran Khan strongly condemns raid, plans to give roadmap today

Web Desk
Zahid Shirwani
Police raid ex-Punjab CM Elahis house on April 29, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews
Police raid ex-Punjab CM Elahi's house on April 29, 2023, in this still taken from a video. — YouTube/GeoNews

  • Operation ended at 6am after nearly 8 hours.
  • Heavy contingent of police raided Elahi's residence.
  • 27 individuals have been arrested by the police.
  • Imran Khan strongly condemns raid, plans to give roadmap today.
  • Raid came hours after PTI and govt held talks on election dates.

A heavy contingent of Punjab Police Friday night raided Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Parvez Elahi's residence to arrest him, drawing strong criticism from the party, which has been voicing concerns against the arrests of its workers and leaders.

The six-hour long police action came to a halt after Sohail Zafar Chattha, the Director General of Punjab's Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), left the scene along with the police contingent. 

Chattha, talking to the media at the former chief minister's residence, denied any wrongdoing. He said that they did not act illegally and that a petrol bomb was thrown at the police party who came to arrest Elahi.

He noted that the action was initiated by individuals at Elahi's residence, who were not cooperating with the police. Chattha's appointment as DG ACE was objected to by the PTI. The Imran Khan-led party also challenged the decision of the Punjab caretaker government in court in February this year.

Earlier, the police and anti-corruption officials partially halted their operation, claiming that although Elahi is not present at his residence, his mobile phone's location shows that he is present there. But after information from the arrested house help that Elahi is at his residence, they resumed it.

At least 27 individuals, including servants working in the household of the former Punjab chief minister and PTI workers protesting at the scene have been arrested by the police. 

The raid comes hours after the PTI and Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government held talks on election dates, with the former calling for stopping of their workers' arrests, warning that the talks might derail if the law enforcers' actions do not come to a halt.

Analysts said that the pressure tactics of the authorities are giving a boost to Khan's popularity, noting that none of the members from the government's side has faced such late-night raids so far.

In February this year, police raided the former Punjab chief minister's house twice, but returned without arresting him. In March, Punjab Police also raided Khan's Zaman Park residence, which was called off after court orders.

A heavy contingent of police, along with the official of anti-corruption officials, raided Elahi's house. The police cordoned off the Chaudhary Zahoor Elahi Road outside the residence during the operation.

An armoured personnel carrier (APC) of police broke the main gate of the residence after the people inside the house resisted the law enforcers and tried to stop the arrest. Police claim that stones were pelted at them, which injured police personnel and journalists covering the incident.

SP Ammara Shirazi, accompanied by a team of female police officers, entered Elahi's house and conducted a raid. They came back from the house after a brief search.

'No search warrant required'

According to Elahi's lawyer Amir Saeed, the police officials intended to arrest his client, despite him having been granted bail in a case by the Lahore High Court (LHC). Officials from the anti-corruption department then demanded to see the court's bail order during the raid.

Speaking to the media, Elahi's lawyer stated that LHC's Justice Tariq Saleem Shaikh had granted his client pre-arrest bail until May 6. Saeed added that the order of the high court is always received on the next day. "We have made them talk to the court's official over the issue," he said.

Anti-corruption department told the media that the law enforcers have raided the house to inform the PTI president that he had not received bail in the case, but due to the resistance faced from inside, police had to take action.

The officials said that the law enforcers would not leave the location until Elahi's arrest as the location shows him here. "Search warrant is not required [in this case]."

Without giving further details, the officials said that a case has been registered against Elahi in Gujranwala.

Imran to announce 'roadmap' tomorrow

Moonis Elahi, son of the former Punjab chief minister, slammed the police action, saying that the Punjab police have arrived at their residence to arrest his father, despite him being granted bail in the case earlier today.

Elahi's bail hearing had been widely covered by the media, he said in a tweet.

Moonis has also cited former prime minister Khan's recent statement regarding the rule of law in Pakistan, agreeing with him that it has indeed come to an end in the country.

PTI chief Khan strongly condemned the police action against Elahi, saying that it was an illegal raid on his home, with no regard for the presence of women and family members.

Taking to Twitter, Khan expressed his concern regarding the dismantling of democracy in Pakistan, asserting that the Constitution, Supreme Court's verdicts, and fundamental rights of the people are being disrespected, and the law of the jungle is being imposed.

Khan alleged that the London Plan was being used to crush his party's morale. He said that his own residence was attacked and now the same is being done to Elahi by a group of corrupt individuals and their handlers.

He questioned whether the state would dare raid the homes of the looters and money launderers such as the Sharif and Zardari families in the same manner.

Declaring that enough is enough, Khan announced that he would present a roadmap to the nation on how to resist the destruction of Pakistan's constitution and democracy.

Fawad Chaudhry, the senior vice-president of the PTI, has criticised the late-night raid on the residence of the party's president. 

Chaudhry, taking to Twitter, said that the police action serve as evidence that government ministers — Ishaq Dar, Saad Rafique, and Azam Nazeer Tarar — have no credibility in their government.

PTI Sindh President Ali Zaidi has condemned the police action at Elahi's residence, labelling it as "state terrorism". Zaidi alleged that the government is using the police force to unleash terror against PTI.

He criticised the government for negotiating with the PTI on the one hand while using excessive force to break down doors and enter their homes on the other. Zaidi also expressed concern that the country was being pushed towards anarchy.

Furthermore, he pointed out that the gate that the police had crushed during the raid is also used by Chaudhary Shujaat.

'Which institution not being politically manipulated'

The Director General of Punjab's ACE, Waqas-ul-Hassan, addressed concerns regarding the alleged politicisation of his organisation as personnel from ACE Punjab launched raid at Elahi's raid.

He, while speaking to the media persons, emphasised that the anti-corruption body was not being exploited for political gains. He said that those in positions of power are often the ones responsible for corruption. 

When a journalist raised the question of why action is taken only after a government departs, the ACE official lamented, saying it is the prevalent culture in Pakistan.

The journalist further probed whether the anti-corruption institution itself was being politically manipulated, to which Waqas conceded that it was a reality of Pakistan's political landscape. He added that almost every institution in the country is subjected to political interference.