Home Latest News LHC Halts Police Operation at Zaman Park till 10 a.m. Tomorrow

LHC Halts Police Operation at Zaman Park till 10 a.m. Tomorrow

Judge Sheikh says the reprieve will allow time for IHC to issue its verdict on plea seeking suspension of arrest warrant for Khan

by Staff Report

Courtesy LHC

Lahore High Court (LHC) Judge Tariq Saleem Sheikh on Wednesday barred the police from enforcing an Islamabad court’s arrest warrant for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan till 10 a.m. tomorrow (Thursday), saying he wanted “peace” in the Punjab capital.

Issuing his order on a petition filed by PTI leader Chaudhry Fawad Hussain seeking a halt to the “atrocities” outside Zaman Park, the judge noted that this would allow the Islamabad High Court (IHC)—where the PTI has filed a plea against the arrest warrant for Khan—to also issue its verdict and for a Pakistan Super League match to proceed without any issues. “I want peace in Lahore,” he added.

Earlier, during proceedings, the PTI’s lawyer maintained before the court that the police action outside Zaman Park had been a violation of fundamental rights. “Imran [Khan]’s residence has become a war zone. The police have been stationed there for the past 21 hours,” he said. At this, Punjab Advocate General Shaun Gill questioned the maintainability of the petition, saying the matter was already pending before the Islamabad High Court (IHC).

However, the judge said he wanted to learn of the situation from the Islamabad police official leading the operation and summoned him to court. He also summoned the Punjab police chief and the provincial chief secretary.

When the officials appeared in the LHC after a brief recess, the government’s lawyer said the Islamabad police official couldn’t appear in court because he had been injured during the previous day’s clashes. He also informed the judge that the IHC had reserved its verdict on the PTI’s plea seeking cancellation of Khan’s arrest warrant.

To a question from Judge Sheikh on potential solutions to the crisis, the Punjab police chief recalled that the Lahore police were merely assisting Islamabad police in enforcing the arrest warrant. “At first, 14 officers of ours were injured, after which 300 more officials were deployed,” he said, adding that 59 more policemen had been injured in subsequent clashes. “We had decided none of the officials will use any weapons during the operation,” he said, adding that only riot control measures such as water cannons and tear gas were used against PTI workers.

Stressing that the PTI supporters had pelted stones at police vans, thrown petrol bombs at officers and set state machinery on fire, he said the government had decided to call in paramilitary Rangers at that point. “Only people who attacked the police were arrested,” he said. For his part, the chief secretary said the public had suffered a lot of damage as the situation unfolded. The court, to concerns raised by the police chief, said it would not halt any attempts to arrest PTI workers who were identifiable as having participated in attacks on police and public property.

Taking the rostrum, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi claimed his party believed in the rule of law. Claiming that the police had promised a “ceasefire” but had then started shelling inside Khan’s house, he added. “In my opinion, the police want a tragedy.”

Islamabad Police, backed by Punjab Police, sought to arrest Imran Khan in connection with a non-bailable arrest warrant issued over continuous non-appearance in the Toshkhana reference. However, they were met with strong resistance from PTI workers, who initially pelted stones at them. As the clash progressed however, with police restoring to baton-charges and tear-gas shelling, the PTI workers started to physically assault personnel and used petrol bombs to damage public property and police vehicles.

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