Dozens of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI)’s workers were arrested over the weekend while attending a party convention in Lahore’s Kahna area, with police claiming the event was organized without permission.
According to the PTI, at least 80 of its workers were taken into custody. It said the residence and offices of a local party leader and his family were also raided early on Sunday, allegedly to block the convention from proceeding despite being granted formal permission for it from the district administration.
Reportedly, PTI candidate for NA-123, advocate Afzaal Azeem Pahat, had sought formal permission to organize a corner meeting in his constituency and initiated preparations for the same. However, police raided the residence of Pahat and his elder brother, as well as their offices, with the PTI asserting they did not possess any warrants. The party further alleged that police had harassed the Pahat brothers as well as the women and children of their household.
Subsequently, said the party, the convention planned for Sunday afternoon did not take place.
In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan condemned the “state terrorism” against party workers. “One country, two systems,” he wrote, in an apparent reference to the PMLN’s rally at Minar-e-Pakistan a day earlier. “PTI Workers Convention organizers’ home and law chambers are raided and vandalized, but a convicted, absconder prisoner, Mian Nawaz Sharif, is given full protocol,” he added.
Asserting that it had secured permission for the public meeting from the deputy commissioner’s office, the PTI claimed both the DIG (Operations) and the Chief Traffic Officer, Lahore had been directed to facilitate it. However, daily Dawn quoted the deputy commissioner’s spokesman as claiming that the PTI had not been issued a no-objection certificate, adding the party had failed to approach the DC office for formal permission.
In a video shared by Pahat after the raid, he alleged police had ransacked furniture and fixtures and took away CCTV cameras, an LCD and documents from their law offices. Vowing to ensure they were prosecuted for their heavy-handedness, he claimed police had come in 15-20 vehicles and harassed staff.