Lahore: Pakistan’s Punjab Police may launch a security operation on Thursday to arrest the “terrorists” allegedly holed up in former prime minister Imran Khan’s home in Lahore as the provincial government’s 24-hour deadline to hand them over expired, according to media reports.
The interim government in Punjab on Wednesday claimed that some ’30 to 40′ terrorists were hiding inside Khan’s Zaman Park residence and gave an ultimatum of 24 hours to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief to hand them over or face stern action.
All roads leading towards Zaman Park have been blocked and a heavy contingent of law enforcement is in the area, Geo News reported.
Citing sources, it said that the inspector general of Punjab police and the capital city police officer have asked the police to remain “vigilant”.
Khan, in a tweet on Wednesday, shared a video of what he claimed were “scenes outside my house while I was addressing the nation”. In the video, a large contingent of policemen and dozens of police vehicles were seen moving in one direction.
In his video address from his Zaman Park residence on Wednesday, Khan said Pakistan was heading towards imminent disaster and may face an East Pakistan-like situation.
“I am having a frightening dream that the country is heading towards an imminent disaster,” he said.
Rejecting the Punjab government’s claim that some 40 terrorists are hiding inside his Lahore home, Khan said the government must search the house in a lawful manner after obtaining a search warrant because his own life was also in danger in the presence of terrorists.
“But don’t make this an excuse to launch a crackdown on the country’s largest political party, the PTI,” he said.
“This is high time that the powers that be should sensibly rethink otherwise the country might face an East Pakistan-like situation,” he said.
The police in March had stormed the Zaman Park residence of Khan to arrest him but strong resistance of his party workers thwarted that plan.
Following his address, Khan allowed the electronic and digital media representatives access to his residence to see for themselves that there were no terrorists inside Zaman Park.
The media persons, who visited the house, later reported that there were only domestic workers and some policemen inside the house.
Earlier on Wednesday, Khan tweeted: “Probably my last tweet before my next arrest. Police have surrounded my house”.
On May 9, violent protests erupted after the arrest of Khan. His party workers vandalised a dozen military installations, including the Jinnah House (Lahore Corps Commander house), Mianwali airbase and the ISI building in Faisalabad. The Army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi was also attacked by the mob for the first time.
Police put the death toll in violent clashes to 10 while Khan’s party claims 40 of its workers lost their lives in the firing by security personnel.
In his first public reaction to the recent incidents of violence, Pakistan Army chief Gen Asim Munir on Wednesday vowed to bring to justice all those “responsible for bringing shame to the nation on May 9” and said that such “orchestrated tragic incidents” would never be allowed again at any cost.
On Monday, the top military brass vowed to bring the arsonists, who attacked the civil and military installations, to justice through trial under relevant laws of the country, including the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act.
Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.