Imran Khan’s supporters clash with police as it arrive near his residence in Lahore to arrest him
LAHORE, March 14: Police on Tuesday fired tear gas and used water cannons to disperse supporters of Pakistan’s ousted prime minister Imran Khan who gathered outside his residence here to prevent his arrest in the Toshakhana case.
Television footage showed police slowly approaching the Zaman Park residence of Khan behind an armoured vehicle that was dispersing his supporters with a water cannon.
A senior police officer of Islamabad police said that his team has come here to arrest the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman in the Toshakhana case.
Khan has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.
Clashes erupted between police and PTI workers when the former approached Khan’s residence to arrest him. His supporters pelted stones at the policemen. Both Khan’s party workers and policemen were injured.
The official Twitter handle of the party earlier urged supporters and workers to gather outside the residence and ‘remain peaceful’.
A large number of PTI workers equipped with clubs were present outside the 70-year-old leader’s residence to resist the police action.
The police blocked all roads leading to the house of the PTI chairman by placing containers and riot personnel took positions to launch the operation.
Senior PTI leader Farukh Habib told reporters that come what may Imran Khan would not surrender to police in fake cases. “The arrest warrants in the case related to threatening a female judge were today suspended by the Islamabad High Court. Let’s see what new warrants police have brought with them now,” Habib said.
A member of Khan’s party was killed last Wednesday during a crackdown on his supporters who gathered outside his residence in Lahore, defying a government ban on rallies in the city.
On Monday, the Lahore police had booked Khan in a case related to the killing of the PTI worker – Ali Bilal alias Zille Shah – in a road accident.
Earlier, the Lahore police had registered an FIR against Khan and 400 others for the murder of Shah. “The new FIR has been registered against Imran Khan, Fawad Chaudhry, Dr Yasmin Rashid and a number of other PTI men for abetment to murder, concealing facts and evidence related to the death of Zille Shah,” a senior police officer told PTI.
He said the police may arrest Khan and others nominated in the FIR after direction from the “top”. The PTI had accused the police of murder of Shah after inflicting brutal torture on March 8.
This is the 81th FIR against Khan since the PML-N led federal coalition came into power 11 months ago after toppling his government through a no-confidence motion.
Khan Monday led a march of thousands of his supporters, a day after he called off his party’s election rally following a ban on public gatherings in Punjab’s provincial capital.
The former cricketer-turned-politician’s supporters threw rose petals at a convoy carrying him to Data Darbar shrine.
Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
Since his ouster, Khan has been clamouring for immediate elections to oust what he termed was an “imported government” led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Sharif has maintained that elections will be held later this year once the parliament completes its five-year tenure. (PTI)