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Saturday, April 13, 2024

Police raid residences of several key PTI leaders

The Punjab police, late on Monday night, raided the houses of several Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers across the province ahead of their Azaadi March on May 25.

The Punjab police, late on Monday night, raided the houses of several Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) workers across the province ahead of their Azaadi March on May 25.

According to Geo News, a police constable was also shot dead during the raid in Lahore.

The government’s action came despite its claim that it would allow the PTI to march on Islamabad if the procession remained peaceful.

After a high-powered party meeting at Model Town, which was presided by PM Shehbaz Sharif and attended by his elder brother Nawaz via video link, the government resolved that it would not be dictated by ousted PM Imran Khan’s demand for early elections.

However, they directed the interior minister to make all kinds of preparations to deal with the PTI’s long march.

Read more: Islamabad toll plaza clogged: PTI tigers already out for Azadi March

After the meeting, Nawaz took on the PTI chief on Twitter and said: “People can’t be left at the mercy of miscreant jathas which have already played havoc with their lives in terms of poverty, inflation and joblessness. We as a nation need to stop them.”

The PTI leadership had earlier claimed the government had prepared a list of those it intended to arrest to scuttle the protest.

The development comes hours after PTI chairman Imran Khan announced the PTI’s plans to hold an ‘Azadi March’ in Islamabad on May 25, reportedly after talks with the establishment over early polls fell flat.

There were reports of late-night police action at the homes of former federal minister Hammad Azhar in Lahore. However, he was not present at his residence.

After the incident, former Punjab health minister Yasmeen Rashid reached Azhar’s residence and started a sit-in to protest the police action.

Footage circulating on social media showed the former Punjab health minister, a cancer survivor, seated on the pavement.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed’s Lal Haveli and the homes of Fayyazul Hasan Chohan and Ijaz Khan Jazi in Rawalpindi were also raided.

In a tweet, Fawad Chaudhry claimed that his home in Islamabad was under observation, which was why he had left for Jhelum.

“Now I will reach Jehlum and the ‘Azadi March’ will be successful; these oppressors will be brought to justice,” he said.

According to Dawn, “a high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Hamza Shehbaz was held at the CM Office to discuss measures to control the PTI’s protest plan, where the CM had directed police to take action. However, Lahore Capital City Police Officer Bilal Siddiq Kamyana was not available for comment.”

“The police action was in stark contrast to the resolve expressed by PM Shehbaz’s spokesperson Malik Ahmad Khan, who had claimed earlier in the day it had been decided not to arrest any PTI worker ahead of the long march.”

Other videos circulating on social media purportedly showed police raiding the homes of other Punjab-based PTI leaders, including Usman Dar, Malik Waqar Ahmed, Engineer Kashif Kharal, Mazhar Iqbal Gujjar, and others.

In response, PTI Chairman Imran Khan said a peaceful protest was the right of all citizens.

Read more: Dr. Moeed Pirzada likely to be arrested, claims Raja Aamir Abbas

Taking to Twitter, he said, “The brutal crackdown on PTI leaders and workers in Punjab and Islamabad has once again shown us what we are familiar with – the fascist nature of PMLN when in power.”

“The present crackdown also raises serious questions about the handlers, already economy is in a tailspin,” Khan said.

He warned the “crooks and their handlers” that these undemocratic and “fascist” steps would further exacerbate the economic situation and push the country into anarchy.