Lahore: Over 10,000 policemen launched a major operation at Imran Khan's Zaman Park residence here and arrested dozens of workers of his party even as the former Pakistan prime minister is in Islamabad to attend a hearing in a corruption case.
The police personnel removed barricades from the entrance of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief's residence and removed all camps the PTI activists had erected to protect their leader.
During the operation, some 10 workers reportedly were injured and over 30 were arrested.
Footages on social media show police beating PTI workers after entering Khan's residence, where the 70-year-old leader claims his wife Bushra Bibi is also present.
Punjab caretaker government information minister Amir Mir told reporters that the police operation has been launched to clear the Zaman Park area.
"Zaman Park had become a no-go area. As many as 10,000 Punjab police took part in the operation to clear it. We had also reports that the members of banned organisations were also hissing there," he said.
The minister further said a number of PTI workers have been taken into custody.
During the operation, Mir said three policemen and six PTI workers suffered injuries.
He said that police had search warrants for Imran Khan's residence. "The anti-terrorism court had issued the search warrants of Khan's residence and (only) after that police entered his house," he said.
The ousted prime minister, decrying the police operation, tweeted: “(As I left for Islamabad to attend Toshakhana hearing) meanwhile Punjab police have led an assault on my house in Zaman Park where Bushra Begum is alone." “Under what law are they doing this? This is part of the London Plan where commitments were made to bring absconder Nawaz Sharif to power as quid pro quo for agreeing to one appointment.” Khan, in a video message, said the incumbent government wanted to put him in jail at the demand of its exiled leader Nawaz Sharif. "They wanted to hold elections after sending me to jail. They have completely been exposed," he said.
Today's action comes as the Lahore High Court earlier on Friday granted a request by Punjab IGP Dr. Usman Anwar to search Khan's Zaman Park residence as part of an investigation into attacks on police teams, Dawn newspaper reported.
Khan also tweeted the siege of Lahore was not about ensuring his appearance in the court but aimed at imprisoning him and preventing him from leading the PTI’s election campaign.
The PTI leader has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana, and selling them for profit.
Established in 1974, the Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
Khan was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan in October last year for not sharing details of the sales.
The election body later filed a complaint with the district court to punish him, under criminal laws, for selling the gifts he had received as prime minister of the country.
Khan, who has vehemently denied those charges, is set to be indicted in the case.
Meanwhile, Islamabad police have issued a traffic advisory, stating that due to tight security measures around the Judicial Complex in G-11, citizens may face difficulty in traffic movement, leading to inconvenience.
The Islamabad administration on Friday night imposed Section 144 in the capital, prohibiting private companies, security guards, or individuals from carrying weapons. It is mandatory for drivers to carry their vehicle registration documents while driving.
The government had on Friday shifted the venue of the additional sessions court to a comparatively safer Judicial Complex for the hearing of the case after the PTI raised security concerns, Dawn reported.