- PAT workers clash with policemen in Lahore’s Model Town area, injured people include police and political workers
- Qadri’s followers scuffle with police in other cities as well as law enforcement agencies crack down on PAT and TMQ workers
- Govt sources say chief minister has signed orders for Tairul Qadri’s arrest
- Law minister says ‘Qadri’s destination is behind the bars’
- Punjab govt asks Interior Ministry to deploy Rangers for Lahore security
Amidst reports that Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has given orders for the arrest of Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) chief Dr Tahirul Qadri, followers of the preacher-politician engaged in violent clashes with the police in various cities of Punjab, particularly in Lahore where they tried to remove containers placed by the police on roads leading to the Minhajul Quran Secretariat in Model Town, resulting in injuries to several policemen and political workers.
Sources told Pakistan Today that the chief minister had issued orders for Qadri’s arrest after his baton-wielding followers clashed with policemen in Model Town in which several policemen and PAT workers were seriously injured, and police had to resort to firing tear-gas shells at the protesters.
Sources added that the government has also recommended to the federal government that Qadri’s name should be put in the Exit Control List (ECL).
Talking to Pakistan Today, PAT central leader Rahiq Abbasi said that their workers will not allow any attempt to put Qadri under house arrest. He added that the entire nation was watching on news channels the atrocities being carried out by the Punjab Police against their party workers.
“Every street and neighbourhood in Lahore will be turned into a war zone if our leader is put under arrest,” he vowed.
On the other hand, Punjab Law Minister Rana Mashood alleged that Qadri and his followers were conspiring to disrupt the ongoing military offensive, Operation Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan Agency. He claimed that the PAT chief and his supporters had planned to attack seven districts in Punjab, and said that the police would not allow anyone to disrupt peace in the province which is why roadblocks had been set up at important intersections of the province to stop the “miscreants”.
“Qadri’s only destination now is behind bars,” said the Punjab law minister.
CLASHES IN LAHORE AND PUNJAB:
The situation turned tense in Lahore’s Model Town area where a large number of PAT workers broke through a police cordon blocking main entrances leading to the Minhajul Quran Secretariat.
Television footage showed PAT workers armed with clubs chasing policemen stationed in the area. The youth wings of PAT and Tehreek Minhajul Quran armed with clubs were roaming the streets around the secretariat.
PAT spokesman Qazi Faiz had earlier given a two-hour deadline to the government to remove the containers else their party workers would do the job themselves. Soon after his statement, scores of PAT youths took to the roads in Model Town and engaged in clashes with the police.
DIG Operations Dr Haider Ashraf told Pakistan Today that the barricades would not be removed at any cost, and that additional police contingents had been deployed to bring the situation under control.
The situation remains tense in other cities as well as five police officials sustained serious injuries during clashes with PAT activists in Quaidabad district of Khushab. PAT workers also allegedly set a police station on fire in Quaidabad.
Police have blocked all important intersections of Bhakkar, Khushab, Sargodha, and other districts of the regions and all vehicles are being checked to identify PAT workers trying to reach Lahore.
In Sargodha, police detained more than 35 PAT workers while raids were also conducted in Daggar Olakh, Bhakkar to arrest political workers.
RANGERS DEPLOYMENT IN LAHORE:
The Punjab government has also decided to deploy Rangers in Lahore to ensure security in the provincial capital.
The government had asked the Interior Ministry to deploy Rangers in Lahore until August 14, following which five companies of the paramilitary force have been tasked with securing important locations, including Governor’s House.
The imposition of Article 245 is not required to deploy Rangers in Lahore.
The government is also considering blocking cellular phone services in the Model Town area but no decision has been taken in this regard by the time this report was made.