In a crackdown against Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan’s party, police and security officials in plainclothes reportedly raided and took control of its central secretariat in Islamabad and stopped members from entering the premises, a media report said on February 1.
Quoting unnamed party sources, Dawn reported that the raid happened a day after Mr. Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi were sentenced to 14 years of rigorous imprisonment each in a corruption case.
It came just before a general body meeting of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on Wednesday in Islamabad’s Sector G-8. The PTI general body, however, managed to hold a virtual meeting in which it decided to hold organisational elections within a fortnight.
Mr. Khan’s party faced numerous troubles before the February 8 general elections starting with the denial of its election symbol, the cricket bat, to the rejection of nomination papers of Mr. Khan, former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and several other party leaders.
An official of the capital police denied the allegation, pointing out that a raid could not be conducted without having permission from a magistrate and no such order was issued on Wednesday.
He claimed on condition of anonymity they went there to provide security.
“[As] a judgement against Imran Khan and Bushra Bibi was announced, there was a possibility that a protest would be held there. Police did not enter the secretariat and remained outside,” the unnamed official said.
A PTI representative, requesting anonymity, said the general body meeting was planned to be held in Islamabad, all provincial capitals and Gilgit Baltistan for which an arrangement was made to connect all stations through the internet.
“However, in Islamabad, police along with people in civil dress reached the central secretariat, removed guards and took control of the secretariat. Staff was told to go out and a few of them, who wished to stay there, were restricted to their offices.
“Police officials threatened the PTI members, who were reaching there to attend the general body meeting, and told them not to take part in any political activity if they don’t want to face consequences,” he said. “Later, members attended the meeting virtually,” the representative said.
A ‘crackdown’ similar to the one in Islamabad was launched against the party in Quetta but the members swiftly changed the venue of the meeting and managed to attend it physically, according to him.