Law enforcement officials and workers of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) clashed on Tuesday over the arrest warrant of former prime minister Imran Khan in the Toshakan case.
Clashes started when a police team from Islamabad arrived to arrest Imran Khan at Zaman Park. They encountered ferocious opposition from PTI workers and supporters of Imran Khan, who converged on Zaman Park to shield their chairman from arrest. Police used tear gas and water cannons to keep the police party at bay.
For more than 13 hours, PTI workers confronted capital police, Punjab counterparts, and then Rangers personnel in intense confrontations that continued late into the night.
As night fell in Lahore, the PTI gained the upper hand; not only did it create fresh fronts throughout the city, but the inflow of many supporters into Zaman Park pushed security personnel to recede. By midnight, the police had sustained approximately 30 casualties. Police also detained at least 15 PTI members.
More police and rangers arrived at The Mall early Wednesday to enforce the strategy. Several prison vans and Rescue 1122 followed. As the date neared the end of March, rumors swirled around town that police chiefs had “made a mistake” by rowing too lightly during the day, jeopardizing the entire operation.
Read: Imran Khan’s arrest: Police seize Zaman Park gate during PTI brawl.
A Punjab official said, “The next effort is for a smooth and swift operation, it can happen anytime during the night, but it will come.”
It was believed that law enforcement would try to break the deadlock by late evening, but no such action had been taken at press time.
Similarly, Punjab Police Chief Usman Anwar warned that people inciting PTI members to attack police officers would face counter-terrorism charges.
“Today, the police followed the court’s instructions, nothing else.” But those who encourage workers to attack the police must understand the seriousness of their actions. This is terrorism as defined by law, he said, adding that the police will go after people who call for violence against state institutions and those involved in such operations.
In a late-night tweet, PTI chief Asad Umar said that the Lahore High Court Bar Association president has assured Imran Khan will appear before the court on the 18th. He stated there was “no justification” for the police’s actions, considering the promise signed under Article 76 of the Criminal Procedure Law.