The supporters of former Pakistani cricketer-turned-politician, Imran Khan, repelled an “extreme attack” by the police who attempted to arrest him in his residence in Islamabad. Khan, 70, was found guilty of unlawfully selling gifts to foreign dignitaries by Pakistan’s election commission in October last year. Recently, charges were filed against him in an anti-corruption court, and an arrest warrant was issued after he skipped several court summons.
Under Pakistani law governing Islamabad’s “Toshakhana,” politicians can retain official state gifts by paying a certain percentage of their value to the government. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party claimed that his residence was under attack and called for support. The police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the hundreds of supporters who had gathered outside Khan’s house to prevent his arrest on Tuesday. One activist of Mr. Khan’s party was killed during the clash with police.
Khan accused the Pakistani government of plotting his arrest as part of a “London plan” to finish all cases against former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. In a video message, he urged his supporters to fight for their rights and hit the streets. He also stated that he is willing to give a surety bond that he will appear in court on Saturday.
This is the second time in recent weeks that police have been dispatched from Islamabad to serve Khan with an arrest warrant after he skipped several court summons. On Monday, Lahore police booked Khan in a case related to the killing of a PTI worker – Ali Bilal alias Zille Shah – in a road accident. Earlier, Lahore police had registered an FIR against Khan and 400 others for Shah’s murder.
Khan’s supporters are rallying behind him, and tensions remain high in the Pakistani capital. The situation is being closely monitored by local and international media.