The court orders a suspension of operations until Thursday as security forces withdraw from the Lahore area near the former prime minister’s house.
Islamabad, Pakistan – A court in the Pakistani city of Lahore has ordered an immediate halt to a two-day operation to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan until Thursday morning.
Security forces first attempted to take the leader of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party into custody on Tuesday afternoon after an Islamabad court issued an arrest warrant to secure his arrest. court appearance by March 18. case related to the sale of state gifts.
But they were confronted by hundreds of Khan supporters who gathered outside his Zaman Park residence in Lahore and tried to prevent the arrest. Dozens of injuries were reported as security forces fired tear gas and water cannons and Khan supporters threw rocks.
The tense standoff continued on Wednesday but in the afternoon the Lahore High Court issued an order suspending the operation until 10:00 a.m. Thursday (0500 GMT) following a petition filed earlier by the PTI.
The PTI had also petitioned the High Court in Islamabad, asking for the non-releasable arrest warrant to be quashed. The court rejected the plea, asking Khan to undertake in a lower court to appear before it on March 18.
The Lahore court order came shortly after security forces withdrew from the area outside Khan’s residence. Provincial authorities said the withdrawal was made to facilitate a cricket match due to be played in Lahore later on Wednesday.
The situation remained calm but tense outside Khan’s residence, as PTI supporters celebrated their ability to prevent Khan’s arrest for a second consecutive day.
Earlier, Khan gave a speech in which he accused the government of plotting to disqualify him from the elections.
“What is this warrant the police are here for?” asked the cricketer-turned-politician. “All this shelling, such a display of force as if a terrorist was hiding. What is it?” he continued, surrounded by empty tear gas canisters.
Khan, who served as prime minister from 2018 until April last year when he lost a vote of confidence in parliament, said he had signed a bond guaranteeing his appearance in court by 18 March, but alleged that the police refused to take him.
“By law, once bail was given to the arresting officer, the police should have realized that I had shown my willingness to go to court and stop the attempts arrest, but they didn’t.”
Meanwhile, Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb alleged that security personnel involved in the operation to arrest Khan, which included the paramilitary Pakistani Rangers, were attacked by police officers from the Gilgit-Baltistan region. .
Gilgit-Baltistan is an autonomous region in northern Pakistan, whose government is currently controlled by Khan’s PTI.
“The PTI unleashed its goons with the Gilgit-Baltistan Police to attack and challenge the police order,” Aurangzeb told a news conference in Islamabad.
“It cannot continue that the police go to enforce a court order, while the court continues to award reparations to Khan,” Aurangzeb said.