Ex-Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan marks court attendance as supporters clash with police

Islamabad—Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared in court in the capital on Saturday, his aide said.

Local media Geo TV reported that a court of first instance in Islamabad had canceled his arrest warrant as a result of his presence.

Khan, who was in office from 2018 to 2022, faced a flurry of legal challenges, including one that led to a failed attempt to arrest him on Tuesday and clashes between supporters and police that also took place on Saturday. confronting.

Khan’s aide Fawad Chaudhry told Reuters the former prime minister’s presence had been officially recorded by the court and he had left to return to his home in Lahore city.

Khan’s car arrived at Islamabad’s judicial complex amid clashes between police and his supporters, local media said. They reported that given the chaos around the complex, he was physically unable to enter the courtroom and was eventually allowed by a judge to sign his presence from his car. .

He was ordered to face court charges on Saturday for illegally selling state gifts given to him by foreign officials while in office.

Khan says he followed legal procedures in obtaining the gift.

Police raided Mr Khan’s home in Lahore earlier in the day after he left the country to appear in court in Islamabad, prompting several of his supporters in suspected attacks on officers during clashes earlier in the week. arrested someone.

Another Khan aide, Shireen Mazari, said police had broken down the front gate of Khan’s house.

In Islamabad, a police chief told local broadcaster Geonews that Khan’s supporters attacked police near the courthouse and fired tear gas canisters, prompting police to fire more tear gas.

Prime Minister Shevas Sharif criticized Khan on Twitter, saying he was using people as human shields and trying to intimidate the judiciary.

nationwide protest

Khan has led nationwide protests since being ousted from power last year, with a string of cases being registered against him.

Earlier this week, police and Khan’s supporters clashed outside his home during an arrest attempt.

Hours before leaving his home, the former cricket star told Reuters he had formed a committee to lead his political party, Pakistan Teliku Einsaf (PTI), should he be arrested.

Khan, who was shot and wounded during his election campaign in November, said in an interview that the threat to his life was greater than before, and without providing any evidence, said his political opponents and the military would be killed later this year. He claimed that he wanted to prevent him from running for office in the election.

The military and government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Sharif government has denied being behind the lawsuit against Khan.The military, which has played a huge role in Pakistan and has ruled the country for almost half of its 75-year history, has remained politically neutral. says to do.

The court issued an arrest warrant for Khan in the case because he failed to attend the earlier hearings despite the summons.

The court granted Khan protection against arrest due to his assurance that he would appear in court on Saturday, but he said he feared police and the government were planning to detain him.

“Even though I was released on bail in all cases, it is clear that the (Pakistan Democratic Movement Union) government is trying to arrest me. I am suing Islamabad and the courts because I believe in control,” Khan said on Twitter.

“It is also clear that the entire Lahore siege was intended to take me to prison, not to ensure that I would appear in court on a case.”

Pakistan’s information minister said this week that the government had nothing to do with the actions of the police and that the police were following court orders.

Clashes outside Lahore house

Hundreds of supporters prevented police from entering the premises during Tuesday’s arrest attempt.

Many of the supporters stayed to defend the home of Khan, who left for Islamabad on Saturday.

Uthman Anwar, the Punjab police chief, said at a press conference in Lahore that officers had been involved in previous clashes with police, arresting 61 people for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails. He said he went to Khan’s house on Saturday.

Khan’s party has shared footage with journalists that appears to show police beating his supporters with batons in the garden of a Lahore home.

Khan said his wife was home alone during the raid.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaura told Geo News that police had a warrant to retrieve weapons from a building outside Khan’s house and conduct a search. Sanaura said law enforcement officials are not entering the homes and are staying in the gardens and driveways.

By Ariba Shahid and Akhtar Soomro