Accused of unlawfully selling state gifts during his tenure of 2018-2022, former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan said in a video address on Wednesday he was willing to give a surety bond that he would appear in court on March 18, as clashes between his supporters and law enforcers, quite literally outside his villa’s window entered an unsteady hiatus.
Imran Khan was supposed to be detained by force of an arrest warrant issued by a lower trial court in the capital Islamabad for unlawfully selling state gifts while in power from 2018 to 2022.
Khan aide Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters the former prime minister had secured “protective bail” from a court.
“Our understanding is that the police can’t arrest Imran Khan,” he said.
Standoffs between law enforcement and loyalists of former PM Khan entered the second day on Wednesday. The clashes revolve around the government’s attempt at arresting Imran Khan in the context of a corruption case.
Rangers firing straight into our citizens and look at their movement as if they are fighting an enemy on the battlefield.
Or are their own Pakistani citizens their enemies now? Absolutely shameful action by State – just to appease another criminal absconder hiding in London! pic.twitter.com/PQiu26Ru6l
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) March 15, 2023
The unrest was also amped by his demand to organize snap elections. Khan’s opponents saw his call as an attempt to swiftly reclaim power after the last elections that saw his defeat and Shehbaz Sharif’s victory.
The situation around Khan’s villa cooled down on Wednesday when the police stopped operations there due to a scheduled Pakistan super league cricket match, local Geo News reported.
#Pakistan: State terrorism in Pakistan to deter democracy is despicable. Pakistan's security establishment is doing everything in its power to remove the most popular leader, Imran Khan, from the scene and avoid elections. The entire world is watching what's happening at Lahore. pic.twitter.com/sStNzqu4f9
— International Human Rights Foundation (@Declaracion) March 14, 2023
But on Tuesday the pummelling was all-out. Police and Khan supporters fought pitched battles just outside the former PM’s home in Lahore. There were wounded on both sides, a government spokesman and witnesses said. Police batons were falling down on Khan supporters’ heads. Tears rolled down unprotected faces as the police units launched tear gas grenades at the crowd. Some of the grenades landed on Khan’s lawn, according to video images released by his party.
Unbelievable. Former Prime Minister @ImranKhanPTI looking at the tear gas shells and cartridges fired inside and outside his residence in Lahore. Islamabad and Lahore police is trying to arrest him since last evening after the warrants issued by a court. pic.twitter.com/DybJqvzHVi
— Hamid Mir حامد میر (@HamidMirPAK) March 15, 2023
Internet connection had been cut and helicopters were booming above the compound, Geo News reported.
“We will arrest Imran Khan today and present him in court,” Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said on Tuesday at a public rally telecast live on local TV channels. His promises, however, have remained unfulfilled.
Khan was shot and wounded in one of his rallies calling for snap elections.