Pakistan's Punjab govt gives Imran 24-hr deadline to handover terrorists

The interim government in Pakistan's Punjab province claimed that some '30 to 40' terrorists are hiding at the Lahore residence of former prime minister Imran Khan

Press Trust of India Lahore
Imran Khan

The interim government in Pakistan's Punjab province on Wednesday claimed that some '30 to 40' terrorists are hiding at the Lahore residence of former prime minister Imran Khan, giving him an ultimatum of 24 hours to hand them over or face stern action.

The police in March had stormed the Zaman Park residence of Khan to arrest him but strong resistance of his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, workers thwarted that plan.

"We have received an intelligence report that some 30 to 40 terrorists who were involved in attacking the military installations, especially Lahore Corps Commander House on May 9, are hiding at Zaman Park residence of Imran Khan. We give an ultimatum of 24 hours to Khan and his party to hand them over to police or face stern action," Punjab's caretaker information minister Amir Mir said at a press conference.

Mir, who is the brother of known anchor Hamid Mir, asked Khan to take this ultimatum seriously as the law enforcement agencies have reserved the right to arrest the terrorists from his house.

Referring to the May 9 protesters as 'terrorists', Mir said the government was aware of their presence at Khan's Zaman Park residence as it had credible intelligence reports.

"The intelligence report that has come is very alarming," Mir said, adding that the agencies were able to confirm the presence of the "terrorists" in Zaman Park through geo-fencing.

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Geo-fencing is a technology that allows the movements of a person, vehicle, etc. to be recorded or limited using satellite signals.

Recalling the recent violent protests in the country following the arrest of ousted prime minister Khan, Mir alleged that "The PTI leadership had planned the attack before the arrest [of Imran Khan]."

The arrest of 70-year-old Khan on May 9 by the paramilitary Rangers at the Islamabad High Court premises triggered violent protests by his supporters across Pakistan.

For the first time in Pakistan's history, the protesters stormed the army headquarters in Rawalpindi and also torched the Corps Commander's house in Lahore.

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.

Mir alleged that Khan has been targeting the military for over a year under a set plan.

The interim information minister said that the government has adopted a zero tolerance policy" towards violence and interim Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi has given a free hand to the Punjab Police to deal with arsonists.

"Several arsonists were in touch with people inside Zaman Park during the attack on the Corps Commander House. They will be made an example so that no one will carry out such an act in the future, Mir said.

"Those who have been arrested so far are being fully scrutinised. Cases are being forwarded after 100 per cent confirmation [of their involvement]," he said.

He said the government has decided that the attackers of military installations will be tried in military courts as an official announcement issued by the Prime Minister's Office confirmed that Pakistan's National Security Committee endorsed the decision reached at the corps commanders' meeting to try the "attackers" under the Army Act and Official Secrets Act.

However, the proposed move to try arsonists under the tough Army Act has come under severe criticism, with the rights groups such as Amnesty International and the National Human Rights Commission of Pakistan expressing concerns.

The army had earlier issued a statement saying it would no longer show restraint against those who attacked its buildings.

Law enforcement agencies have arrested over 7,000 PTI workers across Pakistan, 4,000 of them from Punjab for torching and vandalizing the civil and military installations after violence erupted in the wake of Khan's arrest last week.

Meanwhile, Khan on Wednesday strongly condemned the "illegal arrests" and abduction of the PTI workers and leaders.

"Never did I imagine women in our society would be treated so shamefully and the sanctity of chadar and char dewari so violated," he said in a series of tweets.

"Despite court orders journalist Imran Riaz Khan has not been presented in court and there are confirmed reports of torture against him. I demand immediate release of all our female leaders, workers and the female family members of our leaders and workers. How could Shehrayar Afridi's wife be jailed? This is purely to spread terror amongst the people so that they don't stand up for their constitutional rights," he said.

He further said: "The video evidence coming forward of the barbaric treatment meted out to our female supporters is reprehensible. Many of our female MNAs, supporters, and workers are being held in jails across Pakistan under inhumane conditions, vulnerable to police excesses.

"These abductions and the treatment being meted out to women by this fascist government are not only grave human rights violations but are strictly against our culture and Islamic teachings. All these women must be immediately released. Their continued incarceration is unconscionable. I am also raising this with International Human Rights Organizations."

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.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: May 17 2023 | 9:04 PM IST

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