Fresh crackdown launched against Imran Khan’s party leaders in Pakistan

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan

A fresh round of crackdown has been launched allegedly by the Pakistan Army against jailed former prime minister Imran Khan’s party in a bid to put pressure on the winners in the elections to change their loyalties to parties backed by the powerful military.

The confrontation between Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and the military establishment comes after the party won the lion’s share in the general elections in Pakistan on February 8.

Police arrested successful independent candidates backed by the PTI, and conducted raids on their properties across Punjab province, party sources said.

Arrest warrants have been issued for the PTI-nominated candidates for the slot of chief minister in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

Besides, the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has summoned Imran Khan’s sister Aleema Khan for inciting the public against the state.

PTI’s Prime Minister candidate Omar Ayub on Friday secured a pre-arrest bail from a local court to anticipate his possible arrest in any unknown case to stop him from going to Parliament to compete against Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz-led six-party alliance candidate Shehbaz Sharif for the coveted slot of prime minister.

Omar said that PTI-backed MNA (Member of the National Assembly) from Sialkot, Aslam Ghumman had been abducted by unknown people, referring towards intelligence agencies.

“Ghumman is being forced to leave PTI and join PML-N. Condemn this rigging process and enforced disappearances in the strongest words possible,” Ayub said on X (formerly Twitter).

In Lahore, police have arrested PTI-backed MPA-elect Ahmar Rasheed Bhatti from Raiwind in connection with the May 9 riots cases. The police’s post-election action came when the PTI was celebrating his victory at his outhouse.

Dozens of military and state buildings, including the Army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the ISI building in Faisalabad, were torched and vandalised by many PTI activists during the unprecedented violence that broke out after Khan’s arrest in an alleged corruption case on May 9 last year.

Similarly, the Punjab police raided the factories, mills and godowns of PTI-backed MNAs-elect from Gujranwala – Mobeen Arif Jutt and Ehsanullah Virk – and sealed them.

The authorities continue to use the May 9 violence as a weapon to pressure the PTI-backed winners of the February 8 polls to change loyalties.

The Punjab police issued fresh warrants for PTI leader Aslam Iqbal in May 9 cases.

Iqbal is the PTI candidate for Punjab chief minister against PML-N’s Maryam Nawaz who is the daughter of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Khan, the PTI founder, has been in jail since August last year and just before polls, he was sentenced to a 31-year jail term in three cases. In total, he is facing over 200 cases.

Meanwhile, the PTI said that it had won 180 National Assembly seats out of a total of 266 in the elections while the “mandate thieves PML-N” has got only 17 National Assembly seats across Pakistan.

“Let the world know that according to original, signed, legally binding Form 45s, Imran Khan’s PTI has won 180 seats in the National Assembly while Nawaz Sharif’s PMLN won only 17 seats,” the PTI said and added half of PTI’s won seats were stolen by the illegitimate regime in the late hours of the night of February 8 and following days, “through unprecedented, massive and brazen rigging, in an attempt to cut down PTI’s two-thirds majority.” It further said neither PTI nor the people of Pakistan will accept this daylight robbery of their mandate. “Make no mistake, the will of the people will reign supreme,” Khan’s party said. 

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