More than 60 workers, including six senior leaders, of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party were arrested following its mass court arrest movement over what it called the violation of fundamental rights.
File photo of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
By Press Trust of India: Over 60 workers, including six senior leaders, of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party were arrested on Wednesday following its mass court arrest movement over what it called the violation of fundamental rights, abuse of the Constitution and the economic meltdown.
The party, however, claimed that between 500 and 700 workers and leaders have been picked up by the Lahore police.
“Police arrested 60 PTI activists including former federal ministers Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Asad Umar and Hammad Azhar, Senators Azam Swati and Waleed Iqbal (grandson of poet Allama Iqbal) and former Punjab governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema,” a senior officer of Punjab police told PTI. .
“They presented themselves for arrest,” he said, adding that the arrested men have been shifted to the Kot Lakhpat Jail for a month under the maintenance of public order.
PTI Vice President Fawad Chaudhry said that a large number of party leaders and workers had given themselves up for arrest.
“Around 500-700 PTI workers have given themselves up for arrest,” he said.
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Chaudhry claimed that the police had arrived prepared with police vans but were “worried after seeing the thousands of people and contemplating what they should do”.
He said Wednesday’s protest was limited to Lahore and on Thursday the party workers and leaders would court arrest in Peshawar.
Speaking from inside the police van, Qureshi said that it was a matter of great pride that he was the first to give himself up for arrest as promised earlier.
“This movement will continue until the imported government puts an end to the lawlessness in the country” and is held accountable for the last 10 months in the people’s court, he said.
A large number of PTI workers and leaders had gathered at Jail Road. Some of the party workers had chained and kept themselves in the ‘artificial jails’ they made.
The government had imposed section 144 on different roads including Mall Road Lahore under which not more than five people can gather there.
Earlier, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that police will not arrest any PTI worker for violating section 144.
“Only those PTI leaders will be arrested who are wanted in corruption or any other criminal cases,” Sanaullah said.
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“The PTI leaders are doing photo sessions after boarding a police van in Lahore. They need political mileage through such stunts,” he said, adding that through this campaign 70-year-old Imran Khan wants to create anarchy in the country.
Information Minister Marriyum Auranzeb said that the PTI leaders have attacked a police van. “The PTI leadership will be arrested for attacking the police van,” she added.
On the other hand, Khan said that he has started the “Jail Bharo Tehreek” (court arrest movement) for Haqeeqi Azadi for two main reasons. “One, it is a peaceful, non-violent protest against the attack on our constitutionally-guaranteed fundamental rights. We are facing sham FIRs & NAB cases, custodial torture, attacks on journalists & social.”
He further said the drive was against the economic meltdown “brought on by cabal of crooks who have money laundered billions in looted wealth & got NROs (deal) for themselves while crushing the people especially the poor and middle class, under the burden of spiraling inflation and rising unemployment.
Khan urged the people to take to the streets to get “true freedom”.
“As a matter of fact, this movement will take you to a free and happy Pakistan where your fundamental rights are protected. The ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ is the name of jihad,” he added.
The cricketer-turned-politician said he would also present himself for arrest once his bullet wound heals.
In November last year, Khan suffered three bullet injuries to his right leg during an anti-government rally in Wazirabad in Punjab province.
“There seems to be no rule of law in the country as despite the court’s order to hold the polls in Punjab within 90 days the state institutions are not ready to comply with it. If the elections are not held within 90 days in two provinces, it will create a constitutional crisis and promote jungle law in the country,” Khan said.
The PTI had dissolved its governments in Punjab and Kyber-Pakhtaunkhawa provinces over a month ago. Under the Constitution, elections must be held within 90 days after the dissolution of an assembly.
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The PML-N-led nine-party government has said that holding separate elections for the provincial and national assemblies is not possible because of the economic crisis and the law and order situation.
Khan, who was ousted as prime minister in April last year after a no-confidence motion was passed in the National Assembly, is seeking fresh general elections in Pakistan.