Scores of supporters of Imran Khan barricaded his home on Friday to protect him from a possible arrest. The former Pakistani prime minister awaits to hear a ruling on whether security forces could launch an operation to arrest him for failing to show up in court.
Ahead of the court decision, a tense calm prevailed in Khan’s Lahore neighborhood earlier engulfed in battles between hundreds of supporters and security forces that had tried to force Khan to attend a court hearing in which he is accused of selling state gifts given to him while he was prime minister. The former PM denies the charges.
Even though there was no police presence on Friday, witnesses said Khan’s supporters, armed with batons and iron rods, remained stationed outside his home.
Dozens of supporters of Pakistan's former PM Imran Khan put up barricades outside his residence to prevent police from arresting him pic.twitter.com/CUge4J5GCl
— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) March 17, 2023
Khan’s aide Fawad Chadhury said his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, had filed another plea on Friday at the Islamabad High Court to suspend the warrant after a lower court rejected a similar plea a day earlier.
“Our supporters are outside Imran Khan’s house but I don’t think matters will become extreme,” he added.
The crime of selling
The arrest warrant was issued by a court in Islamabad when Khan, 70, failed to appear before it over charges that he unlawfully sold state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries when he was prime minister from 2018 to 2022.
The Election Commission of Pakistan found him guilty and barred Khan from holding public office for one parliamentary term.
The legal proceedings against Khan began after he was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote early last year. Since then, he has been demanding a snap election and holding nationwide protests, and was shot and wounded in one of those rallies.
In an uncivilized scene, it seems that the government in Pakistan, after the coup against #Imran_Khan , does not even want him to stay in the country and wants to intimidate him !
What did Imran do to be treated this way?
What is going on in Pakistan? pic.twitter.com/W1wx7JoyfP
— د.عـبدالله العـمـادي (@Abdulla_Alamadi) March 15, 2023
Current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected Khan’s demands, saying an election would be held as scheduled later this year.