Ex-Pakistan PM Khan to appear in court, fears arrest as supporters clash with police
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan was set to appear in court on Saturday (Mar 18) after he expressed fear of arrest in a stand-off with the government that has led to intense clashes with his supporters.
Police entered Khan’s home in the city of Lahore after he left for his court appearance in the capital Islamabad.
Khan, in office from 2018 to 2022, is facing a spate of legal challenges, including one that prompted a failed attempt to arrest him on Tuesday.
He was to address charges in court on Saturday of unlawfully selling state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries while in office.
Khan says he followed legal procedures in acquiring the gifts.
The 70-year-old reached the capital on Saturday afternoon and was on his way to the court in a motorcade surrounded by supporters.
Islamabad’s police chief told local broadcaster Geo News that Khan’s supporters had attacked police near the court and fired tear gas shells, prompting police to fire more tear gas back.
Khan has led nationwide protests since his ouster from power last year and has had a spate of cases registered against him.
The police chief for Punjab province, Usman Anwar, told a media conference in Lahore that officers went to Khan’s house on Saturday to intercept people who had been involved in earlier clashes with police and had arrested 61 people, including for throwing petrol bombs.
Earlier this week, police and Khan’s supporters clashed outside his home during the arrest attempt.
Hours before leaving his home, the former cricket star told Reuters he has formed a committee to lead his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), if he is arrested.
Khan, who was shot and wounded while campaigning in November, said in the interview the threat to his life is greater than before and asserted – without providing evidence – that his political opponents and the military want to block him from standing in elections later this year.
The military and government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government has denied being behind the cases against Khan. The military – which has an outsized role in Pakistan, having ruled the country for nearly half of its 75-year history – has said it remains neutral towards politics.