Lahore Standoff: Police Suspend Arrest of Imran Khan until Thursday
Police in Lahore, Pakistan have been ordered to suspend an operation to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan until 10 a.m. local time on Thursday, following a violent standoff between security forces and Khan’s supporters outside his residence in the city.
Khan’s supporters had pelted the police with stones and broken bottles while a helicopter hovered overhead, television footage showed. The police responded with rounds of tear gas and water cannons to disperse the protesters and clear the makeshift tents that had sprung up in the past few months around Khan’s home.
The scene was one of chaos and violence as police attempted to arrest Khan for failing to appear in court on graft charges. Khan has released a video on social media asking his followers to “come out” in support of his movement if he is detained.
Protests broke out in several cities across Pakistan in response. The Islamabad police stated that five of its officials, including the Deputy Inspector General (Operations), had been injured after stones were pelted from the roof of Zaman Park. Khan said he had signed a surety bond which guarantees his presence in court by March 18 but the police refused to take it.
The Islamabad High Court heard the petition by Khan against arrest orders and he submitted an affidavit through his counsel that he would appear before the court at the next hearing on March 18. In a video message on Twitter, Khan said: “They think that after I am arrested, the nation will fall asleep. You have to prove them wrong.”
Khan also alleged that the government wanted him out of the election race since it was “petrified” of his party’s popularity. He said that the police had arrived at Zaman Park to arrest him and that they were using tear gas, water cannons and live firing.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that officials would arrest Khan in accordance with the court’s directives and produce him in court. President Arif Alvi said he was “deeply saddened” by Tuesday’s events and asked if the government was “destroying the political landscape”.
The situation in Lahore remains tense as the police continue their operation to arrest Khan.
0. “Chaos outside Imran Khan's home as supporters clash with police attempting to arrest former Pakistani leader” CNN, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.cnn.com/2023/03/14/asia/pakistan-imran-khan-clashes-police-intl/index.html
1. “Imran Khan Supporters Battle Pakistan Police Out to Arrest Him” Bloomberg, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2023-03-14/imran-khan-supporters-clash-with-police-out-to-arrest-him
2. “Ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan says arrest attempt ‘totally illegal’” Al Jazeera English, 14 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/14/pakistan-former-pm-imran-khan-arrest-warrant-interview
3. “Law enforcers withdraw from around Imran Khan's Zaman Park residence” The Express Tribune, 15 Mar. 2023, https://tribune.com.pk/story/2406197/law-enforcers-withdraw-from-around-imran-khans-zaman-park-residence
4. “Zaman Park stand-off for Imran's arrest continues for more than 12 hours as more reinforcements arrive” DAWN.com, 14 Mar. 2023, https://www.dawn.com/news/1742146
5. “Pakistan court orders halting of operation to arrest Imran Khan” Al Jazeera English, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/3/15/pakistan-court-orders-halting-of-operation-to-arrest-imran-khan
6. “Pak court stops police operation outside Imran Khan’s residence till Thursday” The Indian Express, 15 Mar. 2023, https://indianexpress.com/article/pakistan/pakistan-security-forces-withdraw-imran-khan-home-8498991/
7. “Clashes between Pakistan police, Imran Khan supporters injure several ahead of ex-PM's possible arrest” The Tribune India, 15 Mar. 2023, https://www.tribuneindia.com/news/world/toshakhana-case-police-arrive-at-imran-khans-residence-in-lahore-to-arrest-him-488001