The standoff between the Islamabad police and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers continued on Wednesday morning after fresh clashes erupted near Zaman Park, the residence of Imran Khan in Lahore.
The area turned into a battleground after police, camping in the area to arrest PTI chairman Imran Khan, resorted to firing tear gas at protestors while dodging rocks thrown by the angry crowd. Over 33 policemen were injured in the clashes with the PTI workers overnight, following which a heavy contingent of Punjab Rangers arrived at the former prime minister’s residence to implement court orders.
While the area resembled a battleground with tear gas shells, burnt tyres and vehicles littering the roads, Imran Khan came out, claiming the arrest was mere drama.
"Clearly 'arrest' claim was mere drama because real intent is to abduct & assassinate. From tear gas & water cannons, they have now resorted to live firing. I signed a surety bond last evening, but the DIG refused to even entertain it. There is no doubt of their mala fide intent," Khan tweeted on Wednesday.
Since Tuesday, Khan had been calling on PTI supporters to rush to Zaman Park, where they served as human shields and stood between Khan's residence and the police.
"After our workers & leadership faced police onslaught since yesterday morning of tear gas, cannons with chemical water, rubber bullets & live bullets this morning; we now have Rangers taking over & are now in direct confrontation with the people," Khan tweeted.
"My question to the Establishment, to those who claim they are 'neutral': Is this your idea of neutrality, Rangers directly confronting unarmed protestors & ldrship of largest pol party when their ldr is facing an illegal warrant & case already in court & when govt of crooks trying to abduct & possibly murder him?" he wrote on Wednesday.
He earlier claimed he was mentally prepared to go to jail. " I don't know how many nights. I am all prepared for that. But I think they are determined [this time] and they want me behind bars," he said, according to Geo News.
He added that the federal government's actions were all part of a "London plan" to finish all cases against the country’s former premier Nawaz Sharif. "This is part of the London plan and an agreement has been signed there to put Imran in jail, make the PTI fall and finish all cases against Nawaz Sharif," he added.
Imran said he had given an undertaking to the Lahore High Court Bar Association president to prevent any chaos. The Bar Association president them tried to forward it to the DIG, who was coming to arrest him, but the latter did not meet the president. "According to Code of Criminal Procedure Section 76, if this surety bond is given to the arresting officer, then I cannot be arrested," Imran said. The PTI chief said the DIG had no reason to not accept the undertaking.
He, however, did not make any announcements.
This is the 81st FIR against Khan since the PML-N-led federal coalition came into power 11 months ago after toppling his government through a no-confidence motion.
Though the police came to arrest him after he failed to appear before the court, Khan left his residence to lead a march of thousands of his supporters. His supporters threw rose petals at a convoy carrying him to the Data Darbar shrine.
Khan's government was toppled in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote. He had then alleged that this was part of a US-led conspiracy, aftermath of his decision to undertake "independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan." He has since been demanding fresh elections to oust what he termed an "imported government" led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.