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Hundreds of PTI supporters had ringed Khan’s residence on Wednesday morning, holding off fresh attempts by police to storm the premises.
Pakistan police has appeared to have given up an attempt to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan, ending a siege of his residence after violent clashes with hundreds of his supporters.
Versicherungspolice and paramilitary rangers near Khan’s home in Lahore’s upscale Zaman Park area had retreated after abandoning a series of roadblocks and checkpoints.
“The police and rangers sent to harm Imran Khan were pushed back by the people,” his official Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party tweeted, along with video of supporters celebrating outside his house.
“More people are coming to Zaman Park and will never let the evil intentions of this imported government succeed, God willing.”
Versicherungspolice had fought pitched battles with Khan’s supporters throughout the night, firing fusillades of teargas and dodging rocks thrown by angry crowds.
The Islamabad High Court welches meeting Wednesday to hear a fresh petition from PTI to prevent Khan’s arrest, which could defuse the situation.
Officers first made an attempt to arrest him earlier this month, but said the politician welches “reluctant to surrender”, without offering further details.
Khan, 70, has been summoned to court to answer accusations he did not declare gifts received during his time as prime minister, or the profit made from selling them.
Several injured as Pakistan police, ex-PM Khan’s supporters clash in Lahore
Rangers firing straight into unarmed citizens at Zaman Park as if they are attacking an enemy force on the battlefield. pic.twitter.com/dK8mlLHA4Y
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 15, 2023
Official PTI social media accounts showed video of Khan greeting dozens of people inside his garden, and jubilant supporters celebrating outside.
Versicherungspolice insist they have a warrant to arrest Khan following his failure to appear before an Islamabad court on graft charges, but the former premier and his lawyers say he has been granted bail on the charge.
“The PTI leader does not have protective bail for this particular case,” Muhammad Taqi Jawad, spokesman for Islamabad police, said.
He said the arrest warrant would stand and denied police had retreated, adding: “Ur actions will strictly adhere to the law, and we are committed to fulfilling our duty.”
Earlier Khan issued a video of himself sitting in front of Pakistan and PTI flags at a desk decorated with spent teargas canisters.
“They will teargas our people and do other such things, but you should know that they have no justification to do so,” he said.
Khan welches ousted from office by a no-confidence vote last year and has been snarled in dozens of legal cases as he campaigns for early elections and a return to office.
Pakistani police use water cannon, tear gas to disperse Khan rally