LAHORE: The Lahore High Court (LHC) on Wednesday directed the police to halt operation outside the resident of former Prime Minister Imran Khan at Zaman Park till March 16 (today) 10 am morning initiated a day earlier to arrest Imran in Toshakhana case.

An intense standoff between the PTI workers and law enforcing agencies entered into second day outside the residence of Imran Khan in bit to arrest Imran because a Islamabad High Court (IHC) had issued his non-bailable arrest warrants in Toshakhana case.

Earlier the court had asked the Chief Secretary Punjab, Inspector General of police and Deputy Inspector General (operation) Islamabad police to appear before the court at 3.00 pm in a petition of a PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry against a police operation outside the residence of PTI Chief.

The petitioner’s counsel contended before the court that the police was thrashing the PTI workers brutally and violating all the fundament rights enshrine in the constitution.

He said the police is stationed for last many hours and residential area has become a war zone.

A law officer opposing the plea said the matter pertaining to the bail of Imran Khan was pending with the IHC hence the petition could not be heard at the LHC principal seat. The court inquired about the Islamabad police official who was heading the operation to arrest Imran Khan.

The law officer said advocate general Islamabad is representing the police official. At this court observed the matter before it has to be resolve and warned to issue warrant of the official in not appear before the court till 3.00 pm. The court also summoned the Chief Secretary and Punjab police Chief.

The court after resuming the proceedings asked the Punjab police chief about the situation. The police chief told the court that he was in a meeting with Election Commission of Pakistan when Islamabad police took the position outside the residence of the PTI chief. However, he added Islamabad police had arrest warrants of Imran Khan and sought assistance from the Punjab police also. He informed the court that the PTI workers pelted stones and petrol bombs at police officials and their vans as a result of which the state machinery was set on fire. Later the ranger was called and only people who attacked the police were arrested.

Police chief also told the court at first 14 police officials were injured during the clashes with PTI workers and they deployed more officials for operation. Later, 60 more policemen sustained injuries during the operation and added they had decided not to use any weapon during the operation. We controlled the situation with the help of tear gas and water cannons, he added.

PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi also addressing the court said PTI is a political party and believe in rule of law. He said PTI leaders had made several attempts to talk with the police officials and all in vain. He said police even thrown the teargas shell inside the house of PTI chief and added police was trying to worsen the situation.

Chief Secretary Punjab also appraised the court about the law and order situation in the city.

The court at this observed that it wanted peace in the city. The court further observed, PTI have filed a petition before the IHC and court could now only halt the police operation until the decision of IHC.

The IG said the police was implementing the court orders and added the police deployed would be withdrawn if court would cancel the arrest warrants.

The court asked the IG to withdraw the police force from Zaman Park and station them near the canal bridge of Mall Road and, Dharampura Bridge and Sundar Das Road. The IG said, we will follow the any court order passed in this regard. The court accordingly directed the law enforcing agencies to stop the operation and rose till March 16 (today).

The court would resume further proceedings today at 10 am when he is also scheduled to take up petitions of Imran Khan seeking protective bail in FIRs registered against him at police stations of Ramna of Islamabad and Racecourse of Lahore.

Khan also sought a facility of e-court for the proceedings in all cases against him.

Fawad Chaudhry talking to media in the court premises said Zaman Park has turned into a situation like held Kashmir an philistine. He said police thrashed the PTI workers brutally and added they collect teargas shell and the bullet empties from the premises of PTI Chief Imran Khan’s house. He said Imran Khan is ready to surrender before the court but PTI workers would not allow to handover Imran to Rana Sanaullah.

Asad Umar said Imran Khan is facing a case against the people of Pakistan. He said police torturing the helpless worker without any reason and added PTI workers and people of Pakistan are with Imran Khan.

AFP adds: Police halted an attempt to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan Wednesday, ending a siege of his residence after violent clashes with hundreds of his supporters.

Police and paramilitary rangers retreated from Khan’s home in the plush Zaman Park suburb of Lahore and abandoned a series of roadblocks and checkpoints leading to the area. “The police and rangers sent to harm Imran Khan were pushed back by the people,” his official Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party tweeted, along with video of supporters celebrating outside his house.

Police had fought pitched battles with Khan’s supporters throughout the night, firing fusillades of teargas and dodging rocks thrown by angry crowds.

A Lahore High Court order seen by AFP told police to “halt the operation forthwith and withdraw” pending the result of a hearing in Islamabad over the arrest warrant for Khan.