Wednesday, May 17, 2023
LAHORE: Punjab caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir said Wednesday night that the provincial government has no plans so far of arresting Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan.
"First let the 24-hour deadline expire then the government will reveal its plans," the provincial minister said during an interview on Geo News' programme "Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath".
The deadline expires at 2pm on Thursday and no action would be taken at Khan's Zaman Park residence before that, the information said, after the PTI chief expressed fears that he would be arrested.
"Probably my last tweet before my next arrest. Police has [sic] surrounded my house," the PTI chief — who was ousted as the prime minister last year in April — said in a tweet.
Mir added that Khan is inciting people, "just like always". The information minister said the PTI chief was "lying".
The minister added that the police will not "be conducting an operation" and it has evidence that 30-40 "terrorists" — who were involved in the attacks on the military installations on May 9 — are present at Zaman Park.
"It is possible that Khan sahab might ask those people to leave Zaman Park. When they do, we will arrest them," he said, adding that all agencies, in their report, have noted that the "terrorists" are present at Khan's residence.
In his presser earlier in the day, the minister gave the PTI a 24-hour deadline to hand over the "30-40 terrorists that have taken refuge" at the former prime minister's Lahore residence to the police.
“PTI should hand over these terrorists or the law will take its course,” said the minister. He also added that the government was aware of the presence of these "terrorists" as it had credible intelligence reports.
Geo News reporter Azam Malik, who was at Zaman Park, said the PTI chief allowed media access to his residence.
"The reason behind allowing the media to have a look at his residence is to show them the people over there," the reporter said, noting that the information minister's claim that several terrorists were inside the residence could not be corroborated.
He added that several PTI workers have also arrived at Zaman Park after the information minister's warning that an "operation" would be launched after 24 hours.
Malik added that security has been tightened at Zaman Park, with only people whose names have been approved being allowed inside the house.
He added that the authorities have cordoned off the areas leading up to Zaman Park and workers cannot even reach the residence if they were on bikes.
Since the police have curbed the movement, the resistance that was seen last time isn't expected this time, he added.
PTI leaders and workers are being arrested back-to-back after they resorted to violent protests on May 9 following the party chief's arrest on May 9, in which the General Headquarters was also attacked.
Thousands of workers and top-tier leadership — including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar, and Shireen Mazari — have been arrested under Section 3 of the Maintenance of Public Order.
The crackdown comes after the authorities vowed to bring all the vandals to justice, with the army being determined to ensure such incidents do not take place again.
The military and the government have decided that the vandals involved in the attacks on defence installations would be tried under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act.
PTI, although, has distanced itself from the attacks on military installations and maintained that it supports the armed forces.