A small signboard for Zaman Park is visible on Canal Road, a few furlongs from the Mall Road Bridge, behind the historic Aitchison College in the provincial capital, Lahore. Zaman Park has become the center of attention because of former Prime Minister Imran Khan who is famous in cricket and now in Pakistani politics.
Although this area is known as a residential area, the residents seem to be very disturbed by the political campaign and tension situation that has been going on for the past few days.
On Tuesday this week, the Islamabad Police team along with the Lahore Police under the leadership of DIG Islamabad reached Zaman Park with an arrest warrant against former Prime Minister and Chairman Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Imran Khan in the Tosha Khana case.
Although PTI workers were not in large numbers outside Imran Khan’s residence at that time, the workers who were present, protested and tried to stop the police from going towards Imran Khan’s house from where the police and PTI Clashes started between I workers.
Meanwhile, additional police force was also called and all roads leading to Zaman Park were blocked. When the police outside the Zaman Park advanced to arrest Imran Khan, the PTI workers resisted, in response to which the police resorted to heavy shelling in the area.
Two days after the clash between the police and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf workers, when I reached the Zaman Park area, it was a battlefield.
Here you first experience a burning nose and difficulty breathing as the effects of heavy tear gas shelling were still in the air. The streets and alleys are littered with torn political posters and collapsed camps, while PTI workers with batons are seen everywhere.
Motorcycles and vehicles pass by these torn posters and enter Zaman Park street, where a ‘No Uses of Horn’ board is installed in one corner.
One of these streets leads to PTI Chairman Imran Khan’s house while the other one leads to a closed street. Here I saw a young man standing, who told me his name was Abdul Rahman.
It was only too late to ask Abdul Rehman a question about the political tension and he immediately expressed his views on the matter.
He told me that here we can neither sleep during the day nor at night. During shelling, we were locked in our rooms. On coming out, some empty shells were found on the porch of the house.
He said that he has been living in his house in Zaman Park area for the last 18 years and he has never seen such a situation in this area.
“This area was so different that our relatives did not come here just because it was completely quiet. For the past few days we have been confined at home. Can’t go to get food and can’t call anyone. Now it is getting very tight here.
Abdul Rahman said that fifteen shells were found from the roof of another house just behind his house.
At a short distance from that place came a house from where sounds of playing table tennis were coming. On enquiry, it was found that this is an office and this is the back door of this office.
Here we spoke to Darwish Ali, who has been living in Zaman Park for the past three years.
He said that people carrying sticks have been roaming here since yesterday. Who can be prevented from coming here and cannot ask any questions.
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They cannot arrest Imran Khan, if they do, war will start in the whole of Pakistan.
Fearing that the security personnel posted at Imran Khan’s residence are involved in suspicious activities, the Ministry of Interior has asked for information
“Two days ago, it was learned that some former PTI ministers came to us and said that they needed water and they also needed to use the bathroom. It was a matter of surprise for me because on normal days no one talks to anyone here, but in spite of so much tension during these two days, everyone kept the doors of their houses open for each other.
Similarly, Mehwish, a woman working in this office, told us that she first heard a crackling sound and then her eyes started burning badly.
I have been coming here since 2018 and I have never seen Zaman Park so dirty and smelly. We didn’t even know which way the ambulance would take us in case of an emergency because ambulances were not allowed to come here.
A few steps away from this place, social worker and former provincial minister Ayesha Iqbal was exhorting people to pick garbage. He told us that there was a doctor living nearby who taught people how to give CPR.
This was the only thing that could be done at that time. There was shelling from one side and people were running to help each other from the other side.
But on the other hand, Darwish said that there were many non-local people who were working to instigate the conflict.
“In the meantime you remember that you can’t do anything in such a situation and get caught on both sides.”
Several other residents living in the Zaman Park area refused to discuss the matter citing ‘security reasons’.
When we tried to talk to a man wearing a Pakistan flag on his shoulder, he said that he was not a resident of Zaman Park, but what happened here was a small price paid by the residents. We are ready to give blood.
A person passing by said in a sarcastic reply, “Give them to yourself.” As if he is a god of forgiveness.