KARACHI: Punjab Caretaker Information Minister Amir Mir said on Thursday the law enforcers would conduct a search operation at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan’s Lahore residence with his permission and in front of cameras to apprehend “terrorists”.
“We [the interim government] have decided that instead of a head-on collision, we will send a delegation to Khan sahab under the supervision of the Lahore commissioner,” he said while answering a question in Geo News programme ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath’.
The caretaker government had given a 24-hour deadline to the PTI chief for handing over “30-40 terrorists” allegedly holed up inside his Zaman Park residence. The deadline expired at 2pm on Thursday.
Mir said Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi chaired a meeting, in which it was decided that the delegation would take an appointment from Khan’s team and meet him after the Friday prayers.
“They will ask him [Khan] to allow them to conduct a search operation. A police party comprising 400 personnel will accompany the delegation as there is a reported presence of terrorists there,” he added.
He said Khan had tweeted earlier that he was ready to allow the Punjab police to conduct a search operation in the presence of media, but they should carry search warrants with them. “Since the number of suspects is 40 instead of four, so at least 400 police personnel will take part in the search operation.”
“If he does not permit the delegation to conduct the search, then we will decide our strategy, but for now, we will want things to be conducted in a positive manner,” Mir said in reply to another query.
In view of the PTI chief’s fear that the police wanted to “plant” people at his home and show them as terrorists later on, the information minister said everything would now be done in front of cameras. “Khan’s jokes should not be given much attention. How will we plant so many people — 40 — over there? He is talking nonsense,” he stressed.
Mir said the government had made no plans to arrest Khan and warned him to stop spreading false reports about his probable arrest.
“We have no plans for arresting Khan despite his hue and cry. Even if we don’t come to arrest him, some other authorities will detain him. He should not talk about his arrest for now.”
Mir confirmed that the authorities had apprehended eight terrorists who were fleeing from Zaman Park. “We have arrested eight terrorists who were at Zaman Park. We are interrogating them and asking them about details, including who might be hiding inside the house.”
The 24-hour ultimatum helped the authorities catch these people as they began leaving Zaman Park, he said. “The reason behind using the term ‘terrorists’ for them is because they were involved in the Lahore Corps Commander House attack.”
Geo-fencing had confirmed that these eight terrorists were present at the Lahore corps commander house when it came under attack on May 9, he added.
“We have information that some people involved in the attacks are hiding at the houses adjacent to Khan’s house.”