(Photo Credit: Twitter)
A Pakistani court suspended the operation to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan from his home in Lahore on 15 March, as efforts by security forces to take Khan into custody have failed for a second day in the face of resistance from hundreds of his supporters, Al-Jazeera reported.
Security forces first attempted to detain Khan, the leader of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, on the afternoon of 14 March after an Islamabad court issued an arrest warrant to ensure his attendance in court on 18 March to face graft charges.
However, security forces were blocked by hundreds of the former prime minister’s supporters, who gathered outside his Lahore home to prevent his arrest. The clashes between both sides, in which security forces fired tear gas and water cannons and Khan’s supporters threw stones, led to dozens of injuries.
The clashes continued until the afternoon, when the Lahore High Court issued the order to postpone the detention operation until 10 am on 15 March in response to a petition filed by Khan’s PTI party.
Khan said he was prepared to travel to Islamabad on 18 March but that the police did not accept the offer. He later showed off piles of empty tear gas shells he said had been fired at his home during the stand-off.
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“What crime did I commit that my house has been attacked like this,” he tweeted.
The former cricket star, who was ousted as prime minister in a no-confidence vote in parliament last April, went to Islamabad to appear before three courts on charges of selling state gifts and failing to disclose assets but failed to appear before the fourth court to face indictment in the graft case, which is a legal process for starting his trial.
Khan claimed the charges filed against him, which include terrorism charges, are an effort by his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, to discredit him and prevent him from contesting the upcoming elections.
At the time of his ousting as prime minister, Khan accused the United States of working with a coalition of Pakistani opposition parties to topple his government. Foreign Policy reported that Khan stated he would not accept “US-backed regime change” that “bring[s] into power a coterie of pliable crooks.” He called his political opposition “national traitors” and the new caretaker regime an “imported government.”
Khan alleged that US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Donald Lu met with the Pakistan Ambassador Asad Majeed and warned that there could be implications if Khan was not ousted as prime minister, the Hindustan Times reported.
Khan has long been known for his opposition to US foreign policy. In 2017, Khan organized a motorcade march to Pakistan’s tribal areas to protest against US drone strikes against Islamic militants. A BBC report on the protest noted that “Khan, like many Pakistanis, says the attacks kill large numbers of civilians and foster support for militants.”