Imran Khan Arrest Warrant
By Mahvish Akhtar
On Tuesday, March 14, 2023, the Lahore High Court issued an arrest warrant for Imran Khan, the chairman of PTI. The process did not go as smoothly as it should have. Khan refused to leave his home, declaring he feared for his life. In a video message on Tuesday, the leader called on his supporters to “fight with or without him,” as he said he could be “jailed or even killed.”
Inspector General of Punjab Police, Usman Anwar, said that more than 300 policemen were sent to Khan’s residence in Lahore because they anticipated resistance from his supporters.
“We did not send any armed policemen, only an anti-riot force, as we were only trying to execute a warrant issued by a court and not carrying out a police operation,” Anwar said. Khan’s supporters attacked the officers. Khan, who issued statements through video messages and tweets, called the attempts to arrest him a “mere drama” orchestrated by his successor, PM Shehbaz Shariff. “Clearly ‘arrest’ claim was mere drama because the real intent is to abduct and assassinate. From tear gas and water cannons, they have now resorted to live fire,” he tweeted.
Whether it was the call to stand by Imran Khan or the need to protect whatever hope the PTI supporters have left being delivered from what is happening in this country, they find this man is the answer. They show up when he calls. They fight whoever he says is the enemy.
“They pelted [us with] stones, beat us with sticks, threw petrol bombs, attacked rangers’ [paramilitary] vehicles, and set fire to our water cannons,” Usman Anwar told ARY news channel.
Hours into the alleged standoff and both sides blaming one another, the Lahore Court took the arrest order back, maintaining that it was causing too much damage and chaos and was not worth people getting hurt.
March 17, 2023, around 2 PM, Imran Khan came to Lahore High Court as asked by the court for his hearing. It took the PTI leader two hours to cover the distance that would typically take 10-15 minutes. His supporters and workers followed him and stayed by him throughout the journey.
Right after the Lahore hearing, Imran Khan left for Islamabad to attend the hearing on the Toshakhana case in the capital of Pakistan on Saturday.
Allegedly, the police raided Imran Khan’s Lahore mansion at Zaman Park hours after he left for Islamabad. The police claim they recovered assault rifles and a cache of bullets from the PTI Chairman’s house in that search operation. The police also detained over 60 members of the party accused of being hostiles and obstructing the law.
IGP Usman Anwar said in a Press Conference, “police had finished the search and cleanup operation in Zaman Park and confiscated AK-47 assault rifles and a large number of bullets from Imran Khan’s mansion in Lahore”. In answer to a separate question, he said whether the weapons were licensed is being evaluated.
In Islamabad, at the Islamabad Judicial Complex, the court suspended Khan’s non-bailable warrants in the Toshakhana case after an hours-long hearing. The next hearing date is set for March 30th, 2023.
If convicted in the case, Khan faces being barred from public office, a significant setback to his ambition of running as prime minister again.
The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) Saturday barred television channels from live coverage of rallies or public gatherings, explaining that “today, a ban has been imposed on coverage of any party, person, or organization.” According to PEMRA, the prohibition order includes a ban on any procession or rally being staged today at the judicial complex in Islamabad — where the PTI Chairman Imran Khan was set to appear.
In an advisory issued today titled “Prohibition order on live coverage under Section 27 of PEMRA Ordinance 2001”, the electronic media regulator stated that it has been observed with concern that satellite TV channels are showing live footage and images of, ‘violent mob, attacks on police and law enforcing agencies’.
Arif Noor, a political analyst and columnist for a Pakistani newspaper, says that by attempting to arrest Khan, the government is trying to distract him from the upcoming elections. “To some extent, the government,does want to arrest him – they want to be able to control his movements, but it is also a way to try to keep him distracted, and this is not the first time such tactics have been used.”
Finally in a tweet Imran wrote that he had no issue with taking any initiative that served the country’s interests. He added that he was prepared to render any sacrifice for “Pakistan’s development, interests and democracy”. This is a frame of mind that has not been witnessed from the headstrong former PM who believes that the opposing side is making attempts on his life.
Around the time of Imran’s tweet, PM Shehbaz invited “the political leadership” to come together to get the country out of the challenges, stressing that mutual differences would have to be put aside for economic reforms, austerity and other key issues.
However, on Sunday’s address to the public of Pakistan Imran Khan announced a large public gathering at Minar-e-Pakistan on March 22nd 2023, to protest the alleged “London Plan” and the “illegal” search of his Zaman Park residence a day earlier.
The rest remains to be seen.