NEW DELHI: Tension prevailed outside former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan’s house in Lahore city on Thursday amid a wave of arrests of his supporters.
The interim administration of Punjab province on Wednesday claimed that there were “30-40 terrorists” at his Zaman Park area residence and asked him to hand them over by a 2 pm deadline on Thursday.
It is understood the “terrorist” reference was to the people who might have taken part in the widespread protests against Imran’s arrest from the Islamabad High Court on May 9.
He was ordered freed on bail by the same court on May 12, a day after the Supreme Court called his arrest by the paramilitary force Rangers illegal.
Imran says he expects to be arrested again as the confrontation grows between his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the government.
The government accused Imran’s supporters of involvement in violent incidents last week.
Imran has dismissed the claims that people involved in violence are sheltering at his house.
“It is absolute nonsense,“ he said in a media interview.
Imran earlier invited the media to his house to see if “terrorists” were hiding there.
“I have heard there are 40 terrorists sheltering in my house. I have a request, if there are 40 terrorists, it’s a threat to my life. Please do come (to arrest them), but do not launch a raid. Bring a search warrant, like a civilized society, at least tells us the names of these terrorists,“ Imran said on Wednesday, ridiculing the police claim.
At least 25 protestors were killed and 600 injured in last week’s unrest, according to the PTI.
Imran said more than 7,500 of his supporters and party leaders have been held in the ongoing crackdown by security forces.
The former prime minister has been slapped with 145 police cases ranging from terrorism to corruption since his government was toppled in a parliamentary vote of no-confidence in April 2022.
Having recovered from the injuries suffered during an assassination attempt on November 3 last year, Imran has stepped up his political activities to demand fresh elections.
Pakistan’s turmoil is growing while its economy remains fragile amid serious inflation and a burgeoning foreign exchange crisis.
The power struggle, in which the army is believed to be playing a key role despite its claims of political neutrality, has become bitter.
The integrity of institutions is also being increasingly questioned as many detainees are rearrested by the police as soon as they are freed by the courts.
In some cases, police say they are unable to trace the detainees.
Punjab police on Thursday failed to produce prominent journalist Imran Riaz Khan, detained from Sialkot airport on May 11, in court despite the Lahore High Court’s clear order to do so. – Bernama