Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan and more than a dozen of his party leaders are facing a terrorism case for alleged vandalism and attacks on security personnel during clashes outside the Islamabad Judicial Complex on Saturday (March 18).
The clashes erupted when the former star cricketer arrived in Islamabad from Lahore to attend a much-awaited hearing in the Toshakhana graft case. Cadres of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) clashed with the police, allegedly injuring over 25 security personnel. The incident prompted Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal to defer the court hearing till March 30.
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On Sunday, Pakistani police registered a terrorism case against Khan and around 17 PTI leaders, reported Geo News. The FIR reportedly states that the workers damaged the police checkpost and the main gate of the judicial complex. Eighteen people were arrested for arson, pelting stones, and breaking the judicial complex building, said the FIR.
“Around two police vehicles and seven motorcycles were burned, and the official vehicle of the station house officer (SHO) was damaged,” it reportedly mentioned.
Soon after Khan (70) left for Islamabad to attend the hearing, over 10,000 armed Punjab Police personnel stormed his Zaman Park residence in Lahore and arrested dozens of his party workers, who were camping there to prevent Khan’s arrest in the Toshakhana case. The policemen, using a power shovel, removed the barricades and tents at the entrance of the PTI party chief’s residence.
The cops searched the house after allegedly demolishing its main gate and walls. The Punjab Police team was reportedly challenged by PTI workers inside, resulting in violence. Around 10 workers were reportedly injured in the police operation in Lahore.
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PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry said on Sunday that the party would get cases registered against police officers involved in the “illegal operations” and violence at Khan’s residence.
“Today, a meeting of the legal team has been called. The way in which the police defied the Lahore High Court’s decision entering Imran Khan’s residence has trampled every rule of the home’s sanctity. [things were] stolen. [They] also took away juice boxes. Innocent people were subjected to torture,” he tweeted.
“Defying court order is unforgivable. The high court should guard its judgment. Cases are being registered on all police officers who conducted illegal operations and were involved in violence,” he added.
The Toshakhana case
Khan appeared before Lahore High Court on Friday and assured that he was ready to present himself on Saturday before Judge Iqbal, who is hearing the corruption case against him. The PTI chief has been in the dock for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the PM, 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.
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The cricketer-turned-politician was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in October last year for not sharing details of the sales. The top electoral body later filed a complaint with the district court to punish him, under criminal laws, for selling the gifts he had received as the PM.
Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, becoming the first Pakistani prime minister to be voted out by the National Assembly.
(With agency inputs)