LHC extends break in police operation at Zaman Park till Friday

LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Thursday extended its order till Friday, asking police to stop the operation at Zaman Park for arresting PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

The LHC deferred the hearing of the case filed by PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry till Friday against police operation at Zaman Park. As the proceedings started on Thursday, the counsel for the PTI said a trial court was already hearing the case. Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh remarked that let the trial court announce a decision. He said the issue was related to warrants and the petitioner was not obeying the law.

A day earlier (Wednesday), the Lahore High Court (LHC) had directed police to stop its operation in Lahore’s Zaman Park till 10 am on Thursday as the law enforcers tried to arrest Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. The judge had remarked that the court was ordering a ceasefire as it wanted peace in the city.

The petition was moved after clashes erupted when police tried to arrest the former prime minister for not showing up in court in a case against him related to selling state gifts. A district and sessions court in the federal capital last week issued his arrest warrants.

Security forces had fired tear gas and used water cannons at hundreds of Mr Khan’s supporters who had cordoned off his home in an effort to prevent his arrest. Later in the day, the forces withdrew from his home for the time being ahead of the match of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore.

As Justice Sheikh resumed the hearing, IGP Usman Anwar, Lahore CCPO Bilal Siddique Kamyana, Chief Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman, Advocate General Punjab Shan Gill and others officials appeared in court. Advocate Azhar Siddique represented the PTI chief in the case.

The IGP told the court that the PTI protesters hurled stones and petrol bombs at police officials, adding that one water cannon was also destroyed by the violent protesters. “When we called Rangers, they also hurled petrol bombs at them,” he said.

The top Punjab cop said woman police officer SP Ammara was also tortured by the PTI workers, adding: “When we resumed push to arrest Imran Khan, the PTI supporters again resorted to stone pelting.” He said police were implementing the court orders, adding that the security forces would withdraw if the court cancelled the arrest warrants.

Justice Sheikh remarked if there was any issue if the operation was halted till the decision of the Islamabad High Court (IHC). The IG replied, “We will follow any order of the court”. Later, the judge ordered the security forces to stop the operation and adjourned the hearing till Thursday (today).

Shortly after the LHC’s orders, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) told Mr Khan to move the trial court and provide the lower court with an undertaking that he would present himself on a specific date – meaning that his arrest warrants in the Toshakhana case are still valid. After the withdrawal of police, the PTI chief came out of his residence, in a mask, and met the workers, a video shared on PTI’s official account showed.

Police have registered a case against Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan and other party leaders over violence at Zaman Park. The case has been registered at the Racecourse police station under various sections including terrorism, interference in state affairs, illegal gathering and refusing to receive court summons on the complaint of SHO Rehan Anwar.

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