A court in Pakistan dismissed a request from the lawyers of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan to pause the execution of an arrest warrant against him in a corruption case related to his time as prime minister. This decision raises the chances of another police effort to apprehend the former leader, who has been removed from his position.
Khan is currently staying in his residence in the eastern city of Lahore. Some clashes broke out earlier this week in the vicinity when the police attempted to apprehend him because he did not appear in court for a previous hearing related to the graft case. Khan, who was removed from his position in April of last year, is accused in multiple legal cases, including corruption. He has also been charged with terrorism due to verbally threatening a female judge in the previous year.
On Saturday, he is scheduled to appear in the capital city of Islamabad to respond to the allegations that he sold state gifts illegally during his tenure as the prime minister and hid assets from the authorities.
After listening to arguments from both sides, Judge Zafar Iqbal declined to suspend the warrant for Khan. He justified his decision by stating that Khan had given up some of his rights by refusing to comply with the court proceedings.
On the same day, the Lahore High Court suspended Khan’s arrest. This move helped alleviate tensions in the city that had risen when police attempted to detain him earlier in the week, leading to clashes. His supporters gathered outside his residence for two days while police used tear gas and batons to control the situation.
The suspension, which will be in effect until Friday morning, was considered a relief for the 70-year-old opposition leader.
Furthermore, the courts have prohibited Khan and his opposition party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, from organizing a rally on Sunday, just before the elections for the Punjab assembly, of which Lahore is the provincial capital.
The ruling on Thursday brought a sense of relief to Khan’s followers, although security personnel continued to remain deployed around his residence.
Usman Anwar, the Chief of Police in Punjab, announced that the police would “adhere to the court’s decision” without providing any additional details. Khan has accused his replacement, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and the United States of conspiring to oust him from power. However, both the U.S. and Sharif’s administrations have rejected these claims.
According to Saad Hassan, Pakistan’s election tribunal lawyer, Khan has been evading court appearances since January. On Tuesday, chaos erupted in Lahore when nearly 1,000 supporters of Khan clashed with police, attempting to detain the former prime minister at his residence in the affluent Zaman Park locality.
Khan’s supporters launched petrol bombs, rocks, and bricks at the police, who responded by using batons, tear gas, and water cannons. However, they were unsuccessful in apprehending Khan.
In a video message on Wednesday, Khan declared that he was willing to go to Islamabad on Saturday to attend the court hearing. He even showed the camera stacks of used tear gas shells, which he claimed were gathered from his residence’s surroundings. He also tweeted at the time, questioning why his house was attacked like this and what crime he had committed.