Court cancels ex-Pakistan PM’s arrest warrants after supporters clash with police


ISLAMABAD: A court in Islamabad canceled on Saturday non-bailable arrest warrants against former Prime Minister Imran Khan after his supporters clashed with police.

About 4,000 security officials were deployed during the proceedings when Khan’s convoy arrived from his residence in Lahore to the Pakistani capital, where he was scheduled to address charges of unlawfully selling state gifts given to him by foreign leaders while in office from 2018 to 2022.

Khan denies the charges against him.

As Khan was about to reach the judicial complex for the hearing, clashes broke out between security personnel and supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party.

He marked his attendance from his car and the court acknowledged his appearance.

“The hearing and appearance (of Khan) cannot proceed in this situation,” Judge Zafar Iqbal said, as addressed the judicial staff after police fired tear gas to disperse Khan’s supporters and it became difficult to breathe in the courtroom.

“Ask Imran Khan, there is no need of (tear gas) shelling, stone pelting or anything else, sign (the attendance roll) and leave…All those gathered outside the court should disperse after (Khan’s) signature.”

The ex-PM’s hearing was adjourned until March 30.

The court has previously issued arrest warrants for Khan in the case as he had failed to appear in previous hearings.

Before he reached Islamabad, Khan expressed fear the police and government planned to take him into custody.

The Islamabad High Court has previously issued arrest warrants for Khan in the case as he had failed to appear in previous hearings. On the assurance that he would appear on Saturday, the court granted him protection against arrest.

Earlier this week, Lahore police tried to arrest Khan, and officers clashed with his backers outside his home.

On Twitter, Khan wrote that it was “clear” that the government intended to arrest him and that he was going to proceed to Islamabad and the court because he believes “in the rule of law.”

He added: “It is also obvious now that the entire siege of Lahore was not about ensuring I appear before the court in a case but was intended to take me away to prison so that I am unable to lead our election campaign.”

Khan has been leading nationwide protests since his ouster in a no-confidence vote in April last year.

He is pressing his successor Shehbaz Sharif’s government with demonstrations calling for elections due later this year to be held early.