Imran Khan Greets Supporters As Police Halt Efforts To Arrest Him
Hours after police attempted to arrest him amidst violent fighting, Pakistan's leading opposition leader Imran Khan greets supporters outside his home. As people gathered around his Lahore compound, he spoke to them and posed for photos.
On March 14, 2023, Pakistan's Prime Minister, Imran Khan, faced an arrest warrant issued by a court over corruption charges. However, the Prime Minister refused to surrender himself to the authorities and instead rallied his supporters to his defense.
Supporters' Rally And Police Response
Khan's supporters gathered in large numbers outside his residence, chanting slogans in his support. The police officers attempted to disperse the crowd and arrest the Prime Minister, but were met with resistance from his supporters.
On Wednesday, the streets surrounding Mr. Khan's house were strewn with burning barricades and other debris. The majority of his fans congregated on a main thoroughfare in Lahore and shouted his name.
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Police in riot gear had attempted to disperse hundreds of supporters at the site hours earlier by firing tear gas and water cannon. Bricks and stones were thrown by certain members of the audience.
Afterwards, police attempted to break into the property in order to apprehend Mr. Khan for failing to appear in court in Islamabad.
Pakistan police withdraw from former PM Khan's home after clashes with protesters
Police Halt Arrest Efforts
After several hours of confrontation, the police officers ultimately decided to halt their efforts to arrest the Prime Minister, citing concerns over the safety of the protesters and the potential for further escalation.
The standoff was creating severe traffic congestion, so on Wednesday, Punjab Temporary Information Minister Amir Mir said that the court-ordered operation to capture Mr. Khan had been halted to allow a cricket event to go place nearby.
He said that the procedure will most likely resume after the PSL final on March 19.
The Lahore High Court delayed Mr. Khan's arrest until Thursday so that it could hear arguments on the legality of the arrest warrant later that day.
Authorities have withdrawn from the Zaman Park neighborhood where the home is located, with some paramilitary rangers leaving checkpoints and roads unguarded.
Imran Khan's Response
Mr. Khan thereafter made an appearance and addressed his backers outside. People pushed back against police and rangers who were dispatched to injure Imran Khan, according to a tweet from his PTI party.
Imran Khan greeted his supporters from the rooftop of his residence and thanked them for their support. He also accused the opposition parties of trying to destabilize the government through these charges.
The former prime minister, now 70 years old, was removed from office in April and is being accused of selling official goods while in office. This, he claims, is a politically driven lawsuit.
Mr. Khan claims he did not show up in court due of safety concerns after two prior militant attacks on the building. The lawmaker has indicated that he is willing to sign a promise that he would show up to court on Saturday.
In a previous interview with the BBC, he claimed that he had obtained protected bail until Saturday, thus there was "no justification" for police to arrest him. He further said that the authorities was resolute in their pursuit of incarcerating him despite prior failures.
He said the government was plotting his arrest to keep his party from running candidates in the upcoming elections. Yet, he said, "If I am in jail or not, they will not be able to stop my party winning."
The confrontation between Imran Khan and the police has highlighted the deepening political polarization in Pakistan and the challenges facing the country's democratic institutions.
The outcome of this confrontation will have significant implications for the future of Pakistani politics. The international community has expressed concern over the situation and called for restraint from all sides.
It is crucial for all parties to exercise restraint and seek peaceful solutions to the current situation. The ongoing political tensions in Pakistan demonstrate the need for a more robust commitment to democratic principles and respect for the rule of law.