Late on Friday night, a substantial group of Punjab Police officers carried out a raid on the residence of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) President Parvez Elahi with the intention of arresting him. This move has prompted a backlash from the party, which has expressed deep concerns regarding the frequent arrests of its members and leaders.
The eight-hour long police action drew strong criticism from the PTI, who expressed concerns regarding the arrests of their workers and leaders.
The operation came to a halt after Sohail Zafar Chattha, the Director General of Punjab’s Anti-Corruption Establishment (ACE), left the scene along with the police contingent. Chattha, speaking to the media at Elahi’s residence, denied any wrongdoing, stating that they did not act illegally and that a petrol bomb was thrown at the police party who came to arrest Elahi.
Chattha also noted that the action was initiated by individuals at Elahi’s residence, who were not cooperating with the police. It’s worth mentioning that the PTI had objected to Chattha’s appointment as DG ACE, and the Imran Khan-led party challenged the decision of the Punjab caretaker government in court earlier this year in February.
The police and anti-corruption officials had partially halted their operation earlier, claiming that although Elahi was not present at his residence, his mobile phone’s location showed that he was present there. However, after information from the arrested house help revealed that Elahi was at his residence, the operation resumed. The police arrested at least 27 individuals, including servants working in the household of the former Punjab chief minister and PTI workers protesting at the scene.
The raid comes after the PTI and Pakistan Democratic Movement-led government held talks on election dates, with the former calling for the halting of their workers’ arrests, warning that the talks might derail if the law enforcers’ actions do not come to a halt.
Analysts noted that the pressure tactics of the authorities are giving a boost to Khan’s popularity, highlighting that none of the members from the government’s side has faced such late-night raids so far.
It’s worth mentioning that in February this year, police raided the former Punjab chief minister’s house twice, but returned without arresting him. In March, Punjab Police also raided Khan’s Zaman Park residence, which was called off after court orders.
During the operation at Elahi’s house, a heavy contingent of police, along with the official of anti-corruption officials, cordoned off the Chaudhary Zahoor Elahi Road outside the residence. An armoured personnel carrier (APC) of police broke the main gate of the residence after the people inside the house resisted the law enforcers and tried to stop the arrest. Police claimed that stones were pelted at them, which injured police personnel and journalists covering the incident.
SP Ammara Shirazi, accompanied by a team of female police officers, entered Elahi’s house and conducted a raid. They came back from the house after a brief search.