Eyewitnesses maintained that they could see heavy deployment of police wearing bulletproof jackets and armed with batons, moving close to Khan’s residence in Zaman Park…reports Hamza Ameer
Former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan addressed the nation on Wednesday, saying that it might be his last before his arrest.
Khan’s speech was aired at a time when his residence in Lahore’s Zaman Park was being surrounded by a heavy contingent of Punjab police, which blocked all routes leading to his house.
“Probably my last tweet before my next arrest. Police have surrounded my house,” Khan tweeted.
Eyewitnesses maintained that they could see heavy deployment of police wearing bulletproof jackets and armed with batons, moving close to Khan’s residence in Zaman Park.
While the police were gathering outside Khan’s residence, the former premier addressed the nation, calling on all quarters to use this time to talk and act wisely.
“There is still time. Talk and be wise. The only solution to this crisis is elections. Those who can make elections happen, I appeal to them to save the country by holding polls,” Khan said in his video address.
The PTI chief said that he has never called on his party supporters to carry out violent attacks on military installations or any state building as that is not the philosophy of his party.
“When there were assassination attempts on me, there were no such mob attacks; when they tried to arrest me before, there were no violent riots, because I have always told my party workers to stage and register peaceful protests,” Khan said.
“It was the strategy of the establishment to disburse their people with arms and attack containment areas and installations. They did this only to enforce a divide between the country’s biggest national political party and the military,” he added.
Khan said that a political party with 70 per cent popularity across the country cannot be finished, as he lashed out at the ruling coalition government of Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) for ‘trying’ to pit the army against the PTI.
“Everyone should realise what is happening and have some sense,” he said.
Khan also said that a crackdown on PTI workers is underway, in which at least 7,500 party workers have been arrested.
“This confrontation between the PTI and the military will cause a huge backlash which would be damaging for the country,” Khan said.
Since May 9, violence had erupted in the country with angry PTI supporters storming sensitive military installations, including the core commanders’ residence in Lahore, PAF base in Mianwali, Jinnah House in Lahore, Radio Pakistan office in Peshawar, General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and other military and state buildings, after their leader Imran Khan was whisked away from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) by the Rangers and NAB officials in the Al-Qadir Trust land scam case.
Later, the Supreme Court of Pakistan (SCP) declared Khan’s arrest as illegal and referred the matter to the IHC, which had earlier termed the arrest as legal.
The mayhem caused by PTI supporters is being responded to by a massive nationwide crackdown on PTI workers and top party leaders. Till now, several party leaders, including Fawad Chaudhry, Asad Umar, Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Yasmeen Rashid, Shireen Mazari and many others, have been put behind bars, while over 7,500 PTI workers, allegedly involved in the May 9 riots, have been taken into custody.
The military establishment, through its Core Commanders Conference (CCC), and the ruling government, through its National Security Committee (NSC) meetings, have decided not to spare anyone involved in the attacks.
They have decided to hold all the culprits accountable under the relevant terrorism laws, Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act, adding that zero tolerance will be shown to the miscreants.
In a latest move, the Punjab Police gave the PTI and Khan 24 hours to hand over at least 40 terrorists, allegedly kept in hiding inside Khan’s residence in Zaman Park.
The roads for Khan seem to be shrinking with every passing hour as experts say that the operation to dismantle Khan and his party is underway, and especially after the May 9 incident, the joint offensive against the former premier may ensure that Khan’s anti-establishment narrative, his political future and his party’s existence is diminished.