Non-bailable arrest warrants for former Prime Minister Imran Khan were lifted by an Islamabad court on Saturday, following violent protests by Khan’s supporters and police.
After traveling from his home in Lahore to Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, Khan’s convoy arrived at the courthouse to face charges of illegally selling state gifts given to him by foreign leaders while he was in office from 2018 to 2022. About 4,000 security officials were deployed during the proceedings.
Khan maintains his innocence.
Clashes broke out between security forces and Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party supporters just as Khan was about to enter the judicial complex for the hearing.
When he arrived at court, he checked in from his car and was officially recognized.
Judge Zafar Iqbal addressed the judicial staff and said, “The hearing and appearance (of Khan) cannot proceed in this situation” after police used tear gas to disperse Khan’s supporters and it became difficult to breathe in the courtroom.
Ask Imran Khan, “sign the attendance roll and leave, there’s no need for (tear gas) shelling, stone pelting, or anything else.”
After (Khan’s) signature, everyone outside the courthouse should leave.
The hearing for the ex-prime minister has been postponed until March 30.
For failing to show up to previous court dates, the court has issued arrest warrants for Khan in this case.
Khan had previously voiced concerns that the police and government of Pakistan intended to arrest him upon his arrival in Islamabad.
Since Khan did not show up to previous court dates, the Islamabad High Court issued an arrest warrant for him. The court issued a warrantless release on the condition that he appear in court on Saturday.
Cops and Khan’s supporters tussled outside his house in Lahore earlier this week as police attempted to arrest Khan.
Khan tweeted that the government’s intention to arrest him was “clear,” and that he would be going to the court in Islamabad because he “believes in the rule of law.”
Moreover, he stated, “It is also obvious now that the entire siege of Lahore was not about ensuring that 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.”
Since his dismissal in a vote of no confidence in April of last year, Khan has been leading nationwide protests.
With protests, he is putting pressure on his successor Shehbaz Sharif’s government to hold elections scheduled for later this year.