More than 100 workers of former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party were arrested in Lahore after they held a rally in support of their jailed leader. The party alleged that Punjab police entered the residences of PTI workers on Sunday without warrants and harassed men, women and children.
In a statement, PTI said, “They picked up over 100 party supporters to block the workers’ convention scheduled in the evening the same day.” It also claimed that it had obtained formal permission from the district administration in Kahna to express solidarity with the former PM who is currently imprisoned in Adiala jail in Rawalpindi.
However, the Lahore police said that they arrested PTI workers because they did not obtain permission from the concerned police station to hold the rally. The PTI alleged that the police crackdown was launched as the rally was planned in the constituency of former PM Shehbaz Sharif, considered the “de facto Chief Minister” of Punjab province.
It also alleged that the police crackdown on its activists has come in sharp contrast to the PML-N rally on Saturday, which was openly facilitated by the state machinery to greet the homecoming of its supremo Nawaz Sharif from London after four years of self-exile.
“One country, two systems. PTI workers convention organisers’ home and law chambers are raided and vandalised, but a convicted absconder prisoner, Mian Nawaz Sharif, is given full protocol,” said PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan on X.
PTI criticises ‘VVIP Protocol’ given to Nawaz Sharif
Earlier, the PTI had sharply criticised the ‘VVIP protocol’ given to the elder Sharif upon his return to the country, alleging that federal and provincial resources were used to manage the return of a ‘convicted absconder’.
The party further claimed that the people of Lahore had “completely rejected” the PML-N and its leader’s homecoming. “Never in the history of Pakistan, a convicted absconder has been welcomed like this,” said senior PTI leader Moonis Elahi.
Lahore police chief Bilal Siddique Kamyana saluted Sharif upon his arrival, which was part of the protocol of “a PM-designate one”, the party further said. Nawaz is also being provided foolproof security at his Jati Umra Lahore residence.
Imran Khan indicted in cipher case
Meanwhile, a special court in Pakistan on Monday indicted former prime minister Imran Khan in the cipher case for allegedly violating the secret laws of the country. Khan, 71, was arrested in August after a case was filed against him for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act by disclosing a secret diplomatic cable (cipher) sent by the country’s embassy in Washington in March last year.
Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi was also indicted along with Khan. Khan had used that document to build a narrative that his government was ousted as a result of a foreign conspiracy.
An earlier hearing at the Adiala Jail had earlier announced that Imran and his deputy Shah Mahmood Qureshi would be indicted on October 17, which was adjourned till Monday. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had submitted a chargesheet to the court declaring the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief and vice-president ‘guilty’ in the alleged disclosure of state secrets.
According to sources, Qureshi and Khan have pleaded not guilty to the charges, reported Geo News. The court issued notices to the witnesses to appear on October 27 and adjourned the hearing till then.
(with PTI inputs)