Authorities in Pakistan's Punjab province took complete control of the area surrounding Imran Khan's residence here on Saturday, months after the ousted prime minister's irate supporters started camping there to foil their leader's arrest in the Toshakhana corruption case.
Punjab Police on Friday met Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to arrest "terrorists" reportedly hiding there and handed him a list of 2,200 suspects involved in the May 9 protests that targeted military installations and government buildings.
On Saturday, Lahore police removed pickets, bunkers, protest camps, tents and speed-breakers surrounding Khan's Zaman Park residence here.
"We have taken complete control of the security at the Zaman Park as none of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers was present outside his residence," Punjab caretaker government information minister Amir Mir told the media.
The only thing now remains is conducting a raid of Khan's premises, Mir said.
The minister claimed that the PTI chairman remained defiant and refused to allow police to search his residence.
"We will soon decide on how to proceed in this issue," he said.
Khan,70, has maintained that he has no qualms with the security agencies conducting a search operation on his residence but asserted that it should be done as per the guidelines set by the Lahore High Court.
In March, clashes broke out between the law-enforcement agencies and Khan's supporters, who had taken complete control of Zaman Park to foil any attempt to arrest Khan in the Toshakhana case.
The Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
Khan was subsequently arrested by the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers at the Islamabad High Court premises on May 9, which triggered unrest across the country.
For the first time in Pakistan's history, protesters stormed the army headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and also torched a corps commander's house in Lahore.
A delegation comprising Lahore Commissioner Muhammad Ali Randhawa, Lahore Deputy Commissioner Rafia Haider and DIG Operations Sadiq Dogar visited Khan, his Zaman Park residence and held a 90-minute meeting with him.
They handed the names of people involved in the attack on the Lahore Corps Commander House and Askari Tower and evidence was handed over to him.
Mir said the former premier was handed a list of 2,200 “wanted people” involved in the attacks on military installations during the May 9 violence, claiming that these people were traced via geofencing.
“Among these people are also people from his family who have been on the list,” he told Geo News.
Some of these people Mir said have been named in the list include Khan's nephew Hassan Niazi and cousin Zubair Niazi.
On Wednesday, the Punjab government claimed that "30 to 40 terrorists were hiding inside Khan's residence," and gave an ultimatum of 24 hours to his party to hand over the miscreants.
However, no action was taken after the deadline expired on Thursday.
On Friday, an anti-terrorism court here approved pre-arrest bail till June 2 to Khan in three terrorism cases filed against Pakistan's former prime minister in the wake of violence that erupted after his arrest on May 9.
Police put the death toll in violent clashes to 10, while Khan's party claims 40 of its workers lost their lives in the firing by security personnel.
On Monday, the top military brass vowed to bring the arsonists, who attacked the civil and military installations, to justice through trial under relevant laws of the country, including the Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act.
Law enforcement agencies have arrested over 7,000 PTI workers across Pakistan, 4,000 of them from Punjab.
Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician, was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
(Disclaimer: This story is auto-generated from a syndicated feed; only the image & headline may have been reworked by www.republicworld.com)