Islamabad court cancels Imran Khan’s arrest warrant after clashes between police and his supporters
A court in Pakistan has cancelled the arrest warrants against former prime minister Imran Khan over his alleged involvement in a corruption case, his lawyers said on Saturday, as high-voltage protests unfolded in Lahore between the police officials and his supporters.
The former cricketer-turned-politician has been instructed to ensure his presence at the next hearing in late March by a court in capital city Islamabad after cancelling his arrest warrants and adjourning the session, said Faisal Fareed Chaudhary, a member of Mr Khan’s legal team, reported Al Jazeera.
Mr Khan is facing charges of selling state gifts while he was in power till 2022 and hiding his assets in the continuing case.
“[I] Am grateful to [the] masses that came when I went for my court appearance. Everyone knows [the] ruling cabal of crooks has only one aim, to jail me any which way till elections are over. Already 96 cases on me and am sure after my appearance today I will hit my first century of court cases,” Mr Khan said on Twitter as he made way to Islamabad for court hearing.
Cancellation of arrest warrants will provide the opposition politician a reprieve to travel to Islamabad and face charges in the graft case without being detained, fears of which have sparked dramatic protests in Pakistan this week.
At least 61 people have been arrested in the clashes involving tear gas between Mr Khan’s allies and police officials outside his residence, authorities said.
The police force in Pakistan stormed the former prime minister residence in the eastern city of Lahore on Saturday.
Police had to remove a barricade installed by Mr Khan’s supporters and members of Tehreek-e-Insaf party, said senior police officer Suhail Sukhera, who led the operation in an upscale Lahore neighbourhood.
Mr Khan’s supporters blocked the lanes around and leading to the leader’s residence with concrete blocks, felled trees, tents and a parked truck, the senior police officer said.
The former prime minister, vying to enter the prime ministerial office again, was not at home and was travelling to Islamabad to appear in the case at the time of protests.
The hearing has been postponed till 30 March.
Police officials had to fire tear gas in order to disperse Mr Khan’s allies and chase them to several homes in the plush Zaman park neighbourhood, witnesses said.
Pakistan police officials on Saturday stormed Imran Khan’s residence in Lahore after “bulldozing the main gate” and took several of his supporters into custody as the former prime minister was appearing in court in capital Islamabad, reports said.
Mr Khan said in a tweet that his wife was at the property. He was appearing in court after expressing fear of arrest.
Videos shared by several media organisations and journalists showed police chasing people inside his residence. This comes days after riot police fired tear gas to disperse his supporters during clashes in Lahore as officers tried to arrest the ousted premier for failing to appear in court on graft charges.