Friday, May 19, 2023
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan said Friday that, unlike the authorities' earlier claim, they were not looking for terrorists but only people who were "wanted" at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
"Now, they are claiming that they are hunting down wanted people and not terrorists," Khan told journalists at his residence after meeting a government delegation that came to his house for mulling over the SOPs for a search operation.
Punjab Caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir said the law enforcers wanted to search the PTI chief's residence as geofencing showed "30-40 terrorists" — involved in attacking military installations — were hiding over there.
But when the team — headed by the Lahore commissioner — held meetings with Khan and his legal team, they could not make any breakthrough and arrived at a "deadlock" as the PTI chief refused to allow them to search his house.
"If they want to search for wanted men, then they already have them. They have arrested 7,500 of our 'wanted' workers," Khan said, claiming that anyone associated with his party was a "wanted person" right now.
"I told them: come inside and look for yourself, there's no wanted person here."
Punjab's interim information minister told Geo News' Shahzad Iqbal that Khan wants only "four police personnel" to search his house despite the delegation showing him a list of 2,200 people.
In his presser, Khan asked the authorities if they wanted to look for terrorists, then why were they insistent on searching his house.
"Why would you want to search my house? But, if you want to, I will only allow it if they agree to follow Lahore High Court's earlier order of three people — one government personnel, one person from our side, and a lady officer — searching the house."
Khan said he feared that if the police personnel, with a heavy contingent, come to raid his house, then they might "plant people or material" at his house "like they did earlier".
Following Khan's arrest on May 9 in the Al-Qadir Trust case, his party workers upped the stakes and attacked military installations, including the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
The violent protests incurred severe damage to public property and led to the death of at least eight people and injured several, with severe condemnations from the government and the army.
The military then decided to try the protesters who attacked military installations under the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act, while the National Security Committee endorsed the decision.
But Khan has repeatedly denied responsibility and said his party had no role in the violence.
"We have repeatedly condemned May 9 attacks," Khan said, clarifying that he has not only condemned the attack on the Lahore Corps Commander House, but every violent incident.
The former prime minister proposed that if the authorities provide evidence that his party workers were involved in the arson attacks, PTI would help arrest them.
"Under the guise of their crackdown, they are trying to wipe out the party," he said, adding: "But I will play till the last ball."