former prime minister of pakistan Imran Khan greeted supporters outside his Lahore mansion on Wednesday, after police were ordered to suspend an operation to arrest him amid violent conflict around the property.
Khan is pictured in a video wearing a gas mask while talking and taking pictures with people gathered outside his compound.
Police in Lahore tried to arrest Khan for not appearing in court for corruption. Officers were ordered to suspend operations until 10 a.m. local time on Thursday, after clashes between police and supporters of the opposition leader dragged on for a second day.
The intervention from Lahore High Court on Wednesday came due to security concerns surrounding a high-profile cricket match taking place in the city, with the judge citing the need to “maintain peace” peace,” two Pakistani government officials familiar with the matter told CNN.
Police and paramilitary troops arrived at Khan’s residence on Tuesday afternoon, a day after the Islamabad High Court issued an arrest warrant to force him to appear on Saturday. Khan’s supporters then camped outside his home, declaring they would not let the arrest happen.
Khan faces charges of illegally selling gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries while he was in office, which he denies as “bias”.
Former prime minister who was ousted in a parliament vote of no confidence April last year, has since led a popular campaign against the current government, accusing it of colluding with the military to oust him.
On the doorstep of Khan’s home in the east of the city was a battleground early Wednesday as riot police surrounded the wider Zaman Park neighborhood.
Khan’s supporters hurled rocks and bullets at police while those inside his mansion set fire to it after police fired tear gas at the compound.
Police also used water cannons in an attempt to disperse them, footage shared by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and local media showed.
According to a spokesman for Khan and other supporters, police then cut off the power supply to Khan’s home and turned off street lights in the vicinity.
Early Wednesday morning, a Pakistani police official told CNN that a total of 69 people were injured in the violence in Pakistan. lahore, including 34 police officers. The unnamed official added that those inside Khan’s mansion were armed with guns.
Amid the stalemate, Khan on Wednesday signed a pledge of assurance saying he would appear at the Islamabad High Court on Saturday. However, the handwritten letter did not say whether he would appear in person or send a representative.
Protests also broke out in major cities across Pakistan on Tuesday in support of Khan, who released a social media video asking his followers to “come out” in support of the movement. his movements if he is detained.
Following the shutdown, a CNN reporter in Lahore said police were clearing the area outside Khan’s residence and retreating. Police confirmed to CNN that they did so by order of the Lahore High Court.
PTI senior leader Asad Umar said in a video announcement posted on Twitter that despite the order, police were still able to stay in neighboring areas and guide PTI members near Khan’s whereabouts.
The cricketer-turned-politician has accused Pakistani authorities of trying to arrest him to disqualify him from upcoming elections in April and general elections scheduled for October.
“[The government], they’re scared that if I come to power, I’ll hold them accountable,” Khan told CNN Tuesday. “They also know that even if I go to prison, we will hold elections no matter what they do.”
The former leader says the charges against him are politically motivated and has warned that attempts to arrest him could lead to dangerously escalating political violence in the country. He also believes that Pakistan’s ruling coalition could eventually use “violent pretexts” to delay upcoming votes.
In a statement to CNN, Pakistan’s Information Minister denied any political involvement in the incident.
“The government has nothing to do with (Khan’s) arrest and the arrest has nothing to do with elections. Marriyum Aurangzeb said police were only following court orders.
She added: “Instead of cooperating with law enforcement officials, Imran Khan is breaking the law, defying court orders and using his party staff as human shields to evade prosecution. arrest and cause unrest.
In an interview aired Tuesday in the United States, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said Khan faces arrest “for his ego”.
Speaking to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” Zardari said Khan had repeatedly refused to appear in court and fight his case, often arguing that he was “too important” to face trial.
“What we have witnessed over the past few weeks is a complete mockery of the justice system in Pakistan, the rule of law, the constitution in Pakistan – where he went to court, perhaps without What is the reason for him to do so? Zardari said. “He violated court orders time and time again.”
Khan’s lawyers have argued that he had not previously appeared in court because he was unable to leave his residence in Lahore due to security concerns. He can only appear via video link, according to his legal team.
The political upheaval comes at a time when the Pakistani government is awaiting a delayed bailout from the International Monetary Fund, which will help tackle the cost-of-living crisis and the country’s ailing economy.
Khan was arrested only once in 2007 by President and military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who died before year.
But he told CNN on Tuesday that he was “mentally prepared to spend the night in a cell.”
Khan said: “I want a proper arrest warrant and I want to see that, my lawyers want to see the arrest warrant.
“It is a matter of time. I believe they will come and arrest me, I’m prepared for that,” he said, adding: “I know what the intent is. They wanted to take me out of the race. They want to take me out of the game so they can win the election.”