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Pakistan: 'Illegal' portion of Imran Khan-led PTI's head office demolished, party slams 'thief govt'

Pakistan's Capital Development Authority (CDA) said an additional floor was built at PTI's secretariat in Islamabad in violation of building rules, and that notices were sent to the party. However, the Imran Khan-founded party said it received no such notices and strongly condemned the move.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: May 24, 2024 12:06 IST
Pakistan, PTI, head office demolished
Image Source : PTI (X) A portion of PTI's office being demolished in Islamabad on Thursday, citing violation of rules.

Islamabad: In a dramatic development, Pakistan's Capital Development Authority (CDA) demolished a portion of Imran Khan-founded Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf's (PTI) head office in Islamabad on Thursday, citing a "violation of building rules", according to local media reports. The CDA announced in a statement that its anti-encroachment team launched an operation to remove illegal construction and encroachment in the capital.

The CDA said encroachment by a 'political party' was being removed, adding that the plot was allotted in the name of a person identified as Sartaj Ali. An additional floor was built on the plot in violation of the building rules, and the demolition was conducted at around 11:30 pm (local time) and lasted about an hour, according to Geo News.

The government body said it had issued several notices to PTI but the party did not heed them. As the operation was being conducted, the party founded by the incarcerated former PM urged its workers to immediately arrive at the secretariat. The PTI said that the government began demolishing the office in an "illegal and unjust manner."

PTI accuses 'thief govt' of violating sanctity of party office

PTI chairman Barrister Gohar Khan, on the other hand, claimed that they had not received any orders from the CDA. He said the CDA officials were asked to provide documents about the operation, however, they were unable to produce them. "If there had been any encroachments and they had informed us about them earlier, we would have removed them ourselves," Gohar asserted.

Condemning the demolition in the "strongest terms", PTI Secretary-General Omar Ayub said the city administration started the operation at night without prior notice and promised to raise the issue in the Assembly. During the operation, PTI activists resisted CDA's attempts to demolish the office, resulting in some party workers being arrested by Islamabad's authorities.

Taking to X, the party said, "Late night, an armed invasion and vandalism took place at Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf central office. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf strongly condemns the invasion of the biggest political party of the country by the mandate thief government in the dark of night. Reiterating our commitment not to bow down to intimidation, lawlessness and blind use of force and not to give up in any way from the agenda of true freedom."

"The mandate thief and his followers are shocked to see their end in front of their eyes... The illegal invasion of the central secretariat of Tehreek-e-Insaf is a reflection of the fear within them. Fools are considering our unwavering commitment to the constitution and law and our determination to carry forward the political struggle in a peaceful manner as our weakness," the party added.

"The purpose of destroying the office of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf is to distract us from our ideology and stop us from peaceful political activities. We will not be afraid of blind power and any form of bullying and will continue our peaceful democratic struggle for the supremacy of the Constitution, rule of law and true freedom of the nation under the leadership of Founder Chairman Imran Khan," said Gohar in a social media post.

PTI under military-backed crackdown

Ayub further accused Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi of plotting an 'illegal' operation at the party's office, alleging that the PTI is being targeted 'unfairly' and the matter will be tackled through legal means.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has been battling a military-backed crackdown which saw the cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan being imprisoned in a number of cases. The former prime minister, who remains widely popular in Pakistan, alleges that the cases are part of an effort by his political rivals and the country's powerful military to sideline him and keep him from returning to power. This crackdown intensified after the infamous May 9 riots last year, where military installations were attacked by Imran's supporters after his arrest.

Imran Khan-backed candidates won the most seats in national elections earlier this year despite him being in jail, but they did not have the numbers to form a government. An alliance of his rivals led by previous Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif eventually formed the government.

(with ANI inputs)

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