Officers have arrived at the residence of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in a bid to arrest him in a case related to the purchase and sale of gifts.
In a series of tweets on Sunday, the police said Khan was “avoiding” arrest after officers arrived at his home in Lahore, adding that a police superintendent had “gone to the room” but the 70-year-old was not there.
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On Tuesday, an Islamabad sessions court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Khan for avoiding hearings in connection with the illegal purchase and sale of gifts received from foreign dignitaries when he was prime minister. He has denied the charges.
Following the police’s attempt to arrest him, Khan addressed workers from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party at his Zaman Park home and said he is being summoned for “fake cases” and that his life was under threat.
“I have said this earlier, and I was proven right when I was attacked, that there is a threat to my life,” Khan told his supporters.
“They keep summoning me to various courts in Lahore and Islamabad where they don’t provide security despite knowing about the danger that I face.”
Khan was removed from power in April last year after he lost a parliamentary vote of confidence and is facing dozens of cases against him, ranging from charges like terrorism and corruption.
On Sunday, police officials, who had travelled from the capital, Islamabad, were seen outside the entrance of Khan’s residence.
Islamabad police inspector general, Akbar Nasir Khan, told Geo News TV channel that the team went to Lahore to arrest Khan, not just to serve the warrant.
Nasir added that according to the law, the first step of a non-bailable arrest warrant was to serve notice to the accused and make the arrest immediately.
Khan’s supporters and members of the PTI party gathered in their hundreds to protest against the attempted arrest.
During a public event on Sunday, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the police went to serve the warrant and would subsequently update the court.
Speaking to journalists outside Khan’s home, Fawad Chaudhry, PTI leader and former information minister, confirmed that the police were executing the warrant.
“Police say Imran Khan is avoiding arrest. However, the police’s insistence to arrest Khan is illegal,” he said. “They want Imran Khan to go to court where security is lax and there’s a risk to his life.”
PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said discussions with the party’s legal team will take place before deciding on any future course of action later on Sunday.
“We are a political party, we will react politically. We will strategise. Imran Khan’s life is at risk. He has already suffered an attack, and we fear there’s another attack planned. We have to protect him from it,” Qureshi told reporters.
“Imran Khan has protective bail. The government is trying to create a law and order situation.”
In November last year, the 70-year-old former national cricket captain was shot in the leg when his anti-government protest convoy came under attack in the city of Wazirabad.
One of Khan’s supporters died after sustaining bullet wounds while more than a dozen people were injured.
Abid Hussain contributed to this report from Islamabad.