Lahore, October 23: More than 100 workers of Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have been arrested here in Pakistan's Punjab province to stop them from holding a rally to express solidarity with their jailed leader. The party alleged that Punjab police personnel entered the residences of PTI workers in Kahna area without warrants on Sunday and "harassed the men, women and children". "They picked up over 100 party supporters to block the workers' convention scheduled in the evening the same day," it said in a statement.

The party said it was holding the convention after obtaining formal permission from the district administration to express solidarity with former prime minister and PTI chief Khan who has been in Adiala Jail Rawalpindi in the cipher case. Khan, 71, was indicted in the cipher case on Monday. In a statement on Monday, the Lahore police said they arrested the PTI workers as they did not have permission from the police station concerned to hold the rally. Nawaz Sharif Returns to Pakistan: PML-N Chief and Former Prime Minister Returns After Four Years, Addresses Rally in Lahore

However, the PTI said the police crackdown on its workers was launched as the convention was to be held in the constituency of PML-N president and former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, who is "the de facto chief minister of Punjab province". The party alleged that the police crackdown on its activists has come in sharp contrast to the PML-N rally on Saturday, which was openly facilitated by the state machinery to greet the homecoming of its supremo Nawaz Sharif from London after four years of self-exile. Nawaz, 73, is a court absconder and a convict in a corruption case.

Lambasting the caretaker government, PTI Secretary General Omar Ayub Khan posted on X, “One country, two systems. PTI workers convention organisers' home and law chambers are raided and vandalised, but a convicted absco­nder prisoner, Mian Nawaz Sharif, is given full protocol.” PTI leaders pointed out that the caretaker government accorded Nawaz Sharif a VVIP protocol on his return to Pakistan. He is also being provided foolproof security at his Jati Umra Lahore residence. Pakistan: FIA Submits Challan Oin Cipher Case Against Imran Khan, Shah Mahmood Qureshi

Lahore police chief Bilal Siddique Kamyana saluted Sharif upon his arrival - a video of which also went viral on social media - on Saturday. The protocol given to him by the government was of “a PM-designate one”, they said. Besides, there was a massive deployment of Punjab police en route to the Minar-i-Pakistan, making it look like a government event The Election Commission of Pakistan has announced that the general elections will be held in January next year.

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