Pakistan: Imran Khan dodges arrest after Islamabad Police show up at his home
A team of Islamabad police reached the residence of the deposed prime minister in Lahore on Sunday Imran Khan to arrest him in the Toshakhana case, but turned back after assurances from his legal team that he will appear in court on March 7.
Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) deputy chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said there is no mention of “arrest” in the arrest warrants as a session court in Islamabad has asked him to appear on March 7 to appear before him in the Toshakhana case.
The 70-year-old cricketer turned politician, who is recovering from a gunshot wound following an assassination attempt in Wazirabad last year, has skipped hearings in the case three times.
The Pakistan The chief of Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch which he had been given as prime minister at a discounted price by the state custodian named Toshakhana and sold it at a profit.
The court issued an arrest warrant for Khan last week and adjourned the hearing to March 7 because he repeatedly failed to appear in court.
Meanwhile, Lahore police have closed the main road to Khan’s Zaman Park residence by placing containers. Riot police and water cannons are presently present near Khan’s residence. His party fears that the police may raid Khan’s house at any time. However, it said that the party operatives will thwart such an attempt.
The Inspector General of Police of Punjab, Dr Usman Anwar, said in a statement that the Punjab Police would cooperate with the Islamabad Police to carry out the order of the court in relation to Khan’s case. However, he did not say that the police will arrest Khan.
“The Punjab Police will assist the Islamabad Police in carrying out the court order,” he said.
The Prime Minister’s Special Assistant for Home Affairs Attaullah Tarar told reporters that Islamabad police went to Khan’s residence to deliver him a notice that he is to appear before a court in the Toshakhana case on March 7, when he will be charged in the case.
Today Imran Khan locked himself in a room in Zaman Park. Khan’s chief of staff Shibli Faraz said he was not at home when Islamabad police came to deliver a court order. But Khan later appeared from his home and spoke to the party employees,” Tarar said.
A large number of PTI employees reached the Zaman Park after the news of his possible arrest. “Imran Khan’s arrest is our red line and we will not allow it,” said PTI senior leader Shafqat Mahmood.
While the Islamabad police were outside his residence to issue the court order, Khan spoke at the meeting of the workers arrested in the ‘Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (judicial arrest movement) at his residence.
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Khan claimed that “they” wanted to kill him on his way to his trial. “They hatched another plan to kill me in court,” he claimed.
“I will write to the Chief Justice of Pakistan to tell him that 74 false cases have been registered against me. I am being threatened with my life by those who should be protecting me, he said, in an indirect reference to the establishment.
“Take an example of criminals like (Prime Minister) Shehbaz Sharif and (Interior Minister) Rana Sanaullah who were involved in killing people and an attempt on his life (in Wazirabad in November last year),” he said.
Khan also cited “Dirty Harry”, a reference to a top ISI officer, for brutally torturing his party leaders and activists on social media. “Dirty Harry is a psychopath. He is a sick man. There is a threat to my life from such people,” he said.
In a series of tweets, Islamabad police said earlier that an operation to arrest Khan was being carried out with the cooperation of Lahore police.
“Imran Khan evades arrest. Superintendent of Police had entered Imran’s room but he was not present there. Islamabad Police will transfer Imran Khan to Islamabad under their protection. The law is equal for all. Legal action will be taken be taken against those who obstruct the execution of court orders,” the Islamabad police said.
Islamabad police said its team is still present in Lahore.
IG Islamabad Akbar Nasir said the court has ordered the police to nominate Khan by March 7 after his arrest.
“Islamabad police squad will remain in Lahore until further notice,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told reporters that Khan is applying for bail at the Lahore High Court in connection with the attack on the Islamabad judicial complex.
Khan was removed from power in April after losing a vote of no confidence, which he says was part of a US-led conspiracy against him for his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.
Since his ouster, Khan has called for immediate elections to oust what he called an “imported government” led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
Sharif has maintained that elections will be held later this year once parliament has completed its five-year term.
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