Police personnel that had camped outside Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore for nearly a week to arrest him, allegedly forcibly entered the premises soon after the former PM left for the high court.
Meanwhile, on his way to Islamabad, a car in Khan’s convoy met with an accident because of which the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman’s appearance in court had to be delayed. Khan said that this was all part of a plan to arrest him so that he is unable to lead the party’s election campaign.
Though the courts have granted Khan protection from arrest in 9 cases, including the Toshakhana case, the PTI chief apprehended that he would be arrested. “I am going to court despite knowing they’ll arrest me because I believe in the rule of law,” he said in a video message posted on Twitter.
Khan also told reporters that a committee has been formed to lead his party if he is arrested. “I have made a committee which will obviously take decisions once – if – I’m inside jail.”
چیئرمین عمران خان کا خصوصی بیان۔ #چلو_چلو_عمران_کے_ساتھ https://t.co/8c0l0aC5eC
— PTI (@PTIofficial) 1679124274000
The 70-year-old is scheduled to appear before the court of Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zafar Iqbal to attend proceedings on the complaint filed by the Election Commission of Pakistan for allegedly concealing details of gifts in his assets declarations.
Here are the top developments:
Arrest warrants against Khan cancelled
PTI chairman Imran Khan’s arrest warrants in the Toshakhana case were cancelled on Saturday as ADSJ Zafar Iqbal allowed him to leave after marking his attendance at the Islamabad High Court, due to clashes between Islamabad Police and PTI workers outside the judicial complex.
The hearing was adjourned till March 30 with the judge ordering Imran to appear in personal capacity in the next hearing.
Police say they recovered weapons, petrol bombs from Imran’s house
As former Pakistan PM Imran Khan was making his way to Islamabad, Punjab police personnel launched a major operation at his Lahore residence and arrested dozens of workers of his party and claimed to have seized weapons and petrol bombs.
The police launched a “grand operation” at Khan’s Zaman Park residence and removed all camps, and barricades erected there by PTI activists to prevent his arrest in the Toshakhana case.
During the operation, 61 PTI workers were arrested and about 10 PTI workers and three policemen were injured.
“Today, we launched an operation at 12 noon. We faced resistance from the PTI workers however we managed to control the situation and arrested 61 workers,” Inspector General Police Punjab Usman Anwar said, adding that 20 rifles, including Kalashnikov, and petrol bomb bottles were recovered from Khan’s residence.
Some bunkers were also built in the Zaman Park area, he said, adding that a case will be registered against Khan in this regard.
He said Khan’s house had been raided after police got search warrants.
Khan marks attendance, leaves court
Due to poor law and order situation outside the Islamabad High Court complex, where thousands of Khan’s supporters clashed with police, Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal allowed the former PM to go back after marking attendance outside the judicial complex.
The judge said it would not be possible to hold a hearing given the situation outside the court complex.
“The situation as it is, the hearing and appearance cannot proceed,” the judge said, adding: “All those who have gathered here should disperse after marking attendance. There is no need for shelling or pelting [of stones], the hearing cannot be held today.”
‘I am waiting outside the court’
As Imran and his motorcade earlier reached outside the complex, he alleged that he was not being allowed to enter the court’s premises.
According to a report by Dawn, Imran — in an audio message released to the media — said: “I am waiting outside the [judicial complex’s] door for 15 minutes and am fully trying to enter but they’ve done teargas [shelling] and erected checkpoints and it seems they don’t want that I reach here.”
Despite that, he reiterated that he was outside the complex and was attempting to enter it.
PTI supporters, police clash in front of judicial complex
Clashes broke out between supporters of Imran Khan and police personnel outside the Islamabad High Court, just moments before the PTI chairman was set to arrive at the judicial complex.
چیئرمین عمران خان جوڈیشل کمپلیکس پہنچ گئے، لیکن پولیس کیطرف سے شدید شیلنگ شروع#چلو_چلو_اسلام_آباد_چلو… https://t.co/zH4uVY7l4Z
— PTI Islamabad (@PTIOfficialISB) 1679137468000
Thousands of Khan’s supporters had assembled near the complex despite Section 144 being in place in Islamabad. As the former PM came close to the high court, his supporters allegedly started hurling stones at the police.
In response, the police fired tear gas shells into the crowd. A police picket was also allegedly set on fire.
عمران خان صاحب کا قافلہ جوڈیشل کمپلیکس کے عین سامنے موجود ہے۔سیاسی کارکنان سے گذارش ہے کہ راستہ صاف کریں تاکہ عمر… https://t.co/B0ygZWUlaI
— Islamabad Police (@ICT_Police) 1679135512000
“Political workers are requested to clear the way so that Imran Khan can reach the court,” the police said on Twitter.
Police enter premises of Khan’s Zaman Park residence
News reports from Lahore claimed that police have taken control of Khan’s residence at Zaman Park after evicting hundreds of PTI supporters.
Punjab police personnel allegedly removed barricades from the entrance of the residence with an excavator and entered the premises. The police were reportedly met with resistance from PTI workers camped inside and responded with a baton charge.
They’re even attacking Chairman’s home where Bhusra Bibi is alone. This is a clear contempt of court after LHC’s or… https://t.co/YRi1jFqM3q
— PTI (@PTIofficial) 1679125262000
Some activists were reportedly taken into custody. An unverified video posted by PTI showed police attacking workers inside Khan’s residence.
A separate video posted by an activist showed a power shovel smashing through what appeared to be the front gate to Zaman Park, following which police personnel can be seen entering the premises.
It was also reported that the police broke into the PTI chief’s house by smashing the door. The personnel also uprooted camps erected inside the premises.
Assault on my house: Imran Khan
Khan decried the police operation that was underway at his Zaman Park residence in Lahore.
“Meanwhile Punjab police have led an assault on my house in Zaman Park where Bushra Begum is alone,” he said in a tweet. “Under what law are they doing this? This is part of the London Plan where commitments were made to bring absconder Nawaz Sharif to power as quid pro quo for agreeing to one appointment.”
Meanwhile Punjab police have led an assault on my house in Zaman Park where Bushra Begum is alone. Under what law a… https://t.co/JnqnRZzy76
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) 1679124670000
The PTI chief maintained that an “agreement” was signed in London which outlined that “Imran has to be put in jail to destroy his party and finish all cases against Nawaz Sharif”. Imran maintained that his arrest had “nothing to do with the law” but was in fact part of the ‘London’ conspiracy.
Stringent security outside high court
Stringent security measures have been implemented outside the judicial complex in Islamabad’s G-11, where Khan is expected to arrive by soon.
A large contingent of police has been deployed to the area to provide security for Khan, who survived an assassination attempt in November last year.
Khan said he was aware that the government would arrest him as he headed to the Islamabad court to attend the Toshakhana case hearing amid protracted efforts from law enforcers to apprehend him for missing previous hearings.
Section 144 in Islamabad
The Islamabad administration on Friday night imposed Section 144 in the capital, prohibiting private companies, security guards, or individuals from carrying weapons. It is mandatory for drivers to carry their vehicle registration documents while driving.
In a tweet, the capital police said a traffic plan had been issued, and citizens were advised to avoid unnecessary movement towards the areas of G-11 and G-10.
“Chief commissioner Islamabad has directed citizens to cooperate with the authorities and avoid unnecessary movement to ensure the smooth implementation of the traffic plan.”
Protection from arrest
In the last hearing on Thursday, the court rejected Imran’s plea seeking the suspension of non-bailable arrest warrants issued for him.
However, the Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Friday suspended non-bailable arrest warrants issued for Imran, providing him with a chance to appear before the trial court on Saturday.
During Friday’s hearing, Imran’s lawyer Khawaja Haris submitted an undertaking by his client, assuring it that the PTI chief would appear in court on March 18.
Islamabad High Court suspends Imran Khan’s arrest warrant
Khan has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.
Established in 1974, the Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
Khan was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan in October last year for not sharing details of the sales. The election body later filed a complaint with the district court to punish him, under criminal laws, for selling the gifts he had received as prime minister of the country.
Khan has skipped several hearings in the case.
The PTI chief has been resisting arrest in the Toshakhana case, holed up inside his Zaman Park residence in Lahore, surrounded by hundreds of his supporters, who have fought pitched battles with the police and Rangers over the past few days, resulting in injuries to more than 60 people, mostly policemen.
The clashes ultimately subsided after the courts intervened on Wednesday, a day after which Khan’s supporters placed shipping containers outside the main entrance of his residence and equipped themselves with clubs and slings to protect the former premier from any further police action.
As police laid siege to his Lahore residence, Khan had once again rushed to the IHC with a petition against the arrest orders.
The IHC refused to intervene and asked the lawyer to go to the district court and give a commitment that Khan would appear on March 18 when the court had scheduled a hearing of the case.
Khan appeared before Lahore High Court on Friday and assured that he was ready to present himself on Saturday before the judge handling a corruption case against him.
(With inputs from agencies)Watch Pakistan: Police breach Imran Khan’s Lahore residence