Pakistan’s High Court has extended a pause in the police’s efforts to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan who was due to be arrested today.
The court intervened yesterday to diffuse clashes between Mr Khan’s supporters and police after both sides suffered scores of injuries in pitched battles outside his Lahore home.
The Lahore High Court ordered police to suspend the plan to arrest the 70-year-old opposition leader until Friday.
But despite the order, police and paramilitary rangers deployed for the arrest were not immediately withdrawn.
Mr Khan’s legal team had asked judge Zafar Iqbal to suspend arrest warrants he had issued last week for the former prime minister, who is accused of illegally selling state gifts and concealing his assets.
Instead judge Iqbal asked why Mr Khan resisted when officers went to his house to arrest him. The judge said if he surrenders to the court now, he will stop police from arresting him.
The court also ordered Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party to not hold its planned election rally in Lahore on Sunday, when the final match of the continuing Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 cricket tournament will be played in the city.
Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated on the latest news and updates from around the Muslim world!
The situation in Lahore’s Zaman Park neighbourhood was calm on Thursday, with television images showing a large number of PTI workers gathered outside Khan’s residence, some of them carrying batons.
The road leading to Khan’s residence was blocked by large containers as PTI workers guarded its entrance. Internet and mobile phone connectivity, which remained affected for two days, were restored.
On Wednesday, Mr Khan said in a video message that he was ready to travel to Islamabad on March 18 to appear before the court, if he is not arrested.
Mr Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April last year, was ordered to appear before a judge in Islamabad on Saturday to answer charges of illegally selling state gifts he had received during his term as premier and concealing his assets.
The former premier was wounded in an assassination attempt at a protest rally in eastern Punjab province in November, and has claimed he is not medically fit to travel from Lahore to Islamabad to face indictment.
Khan has claimed that the string of cases against him are a plot by his successor Shahbaz Sharif’s government to discredit him.
Khan has been demanding a snap election but current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected his demands, saying the election would be held as scheduled later this year.