Arrest warrant for Imran Khan dropped during court appearance
A Pakistani judge issued an arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Saturday, his lawyers said, after the ex-cricket star, who had skipped several court appearances, surrendered to court.
The 70-year-old has been embroiled in a slew of legal cases since being ousted in a no-confidence motion last year and has lobbied the shaky coalition government that replaced him to organize early elections.
Earlier this week Imran Khan’s supporters fought pitched battles with police sent to arrest him in the eastern city of Lahore after he failed to appear in court on corruption charges, citing security concerns .
“The court canceled the arrest warrant after marking the presence of Imran Khan. The hearing has been postponed until March 30,” one of Khan’s lawyers, Gohar Khan, told AFP.
After days of legal wrangling, Khan drove over 300 kilometers from Lahore to the court complex in Islamabad, but was unable to get out of the car.
About 4,000 supporters swarmed the compound, throwing rocks and throwing bricks at the officers who responded with tear gas.
The court, however, accepted Khan’s attendance, his lawyers said.
The case was brought by the Election Commission of Pakistan which accused Imran Khan of failing to declare the gifts received during his tenure as prime minister, nor the profits made from their sale.
Pakistani courts are often used to bind lawmakers in lengthy proceedings that rights monitors blame for stifling political opposition.
Imran Khan says the authorities want to throw him in jail so he can’t campaign for the next election.
Some 4,000 security officials, including elite police commandos, counter-terrorism squads and paramilitary guards, have been deployed around Islamabad, with hospitals on high alert.
Meanwhile, police raided his home in an upmarket area of Lahore after blocking nearby roads and suspending mobile services in the area.
As the political drama unfolds, Pakistan is hit by a sharp economic downturn, risking default if help from the International Monetary Fund cannot be secured.
The security situation is also deteriorating with a series of deadly attacks against the police, linked to the Pakistani Taliban.
Last year Khan was shot in the leg at a political rally, an assassination attempt he blamed on Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)