Pakistani ex-Prime Minister Khan’s plea to suspend arrest warrant rejected

  • Arrest warrant issued after former Prime Minister failed to attend court
  • The court rejects Khan’s offer to appear voluntarily
  • Former cricket star denies wrongdoing
  • Supporters battled police for two days to avoid arrest

LAHORE, Pakistan, March 16 (Reuters) – A Pakistani court on Thursday rejected former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s plea to suspend an arrest warrant against him.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, hundreds of Khan’s supporters, armed with clubs, iron bars and slingshots, had surrounded his home in Lahore and fought battles with security forces trying to arrest him.

Thursday’s rejection of Khan’s bid to suspend the arrest warrant came hours after a higher court ordered police to postpone the operation to arrest the former cricket star until Friday, bringing a temporary lull to the confrontation.

The arrest warrant was issued by a court in Islamabad when Khan failed to appear in court over allegations that he unlawfully sold state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries when he was prime minister from 2018 to 2022. Khan denies the allegations.

Pakistan’s Election Commission had found him guilty and barred Khan from holding public office for one parliamentary term.

Khan, 70, had appealed to the Islamabad court to have the order suspended, committing to appear voluntarily in court on Saturday.

But the court said such an undertaking was insufficient given Khan’s past behaviour.

“It is concluded that the application is not justified by both the law and the facts, which is hereby rejected,” the Islamabad court’s order, which was viewed by Reuters, said.


The violence in Khan’s Lahore district, in which protesters set fire to police cars, a water cannon truck and dozens of cars and motorcycles and threw petrol bombs at security forces with tear gas and rubber bullets, raised fears of a new political stalemate in the nuclear battle. -armed Pakistan, which is already grappling with an economic crisis.

The problems subsided after the Lahore high court halted the police operation.

Police said they would seek further guidance from the Supreme Court on Friday.

Provincial Information Minister Amir Mir said there were militants outside his home among Khan’s supporters.

“We have received credible reports that militants were among the people who attacked the police,” he told a news conference. “One of them has served eight years in prison.”

Khan’s assistant Shafqat Mehmood dismissed it as a “fabricated story based on lies”.

While no police were outside Khan’s home on Thursday, witnesses said supporters armed with clubs, bamboo sticks, iron bars and knives set up pickets and barricades.

Punjab province police chief Usman Anwar said he had only sent the police to comply with the court order.

“We used as much restraint as possible,” he said. He added that criminal cases have been registered against those who commit acts of violence.

Police were unarmed, he said, adding that they had to use water cannons and tear gas grenades when Khan’s supporters turned violent.

Khan’s trial began after he was removed from office by a parliamentary vote early last year. He has since demanded snap elections and held nationwide protest rallies, and was shot and wounded at one of those rallies.

Current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected Khan’s demands and said elections would be held later this year.

Written by Asif Shahzad and Miral Fahmy; Edited by Raju Gopalakrishnan and Alex Richardson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Principles of Trust.

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