More clashes as Pakistan police try to arrest Imran Khan

Clashes between Pakistan’s police and supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan have persisted for a second day outside his home in the eastern city of Lahore, a day after officers went to arrest him for failing to appear in court on graft charges.

There have also been clashes between Mr Khan’s supporters and police in other major cities, including Karachi, Islamabad, the garrison city of Rawalpindi, Peshawar, Quetta and elsewhere in Pakistan.

Police have been firing tear gas since Tuesday at the house as the 70-year-old opposition leader’s supporters hurled rocks and bricks at the officers.

The upscale area of Zaman Park where Mr Khan lives remained under siege and the government was sending additional police after hundreds of Mr Khan’s supporters showed unexpected perseverance.

Early on Wednesday, the former cricket star-turned-Islamist politician emerged from his house to meet his supporters, who had faced tear gas and police batons through the night to save him from arrest.

He said he was ready to travel to Islamabad on March 18 under his arrest warrant, but police did not accept the offer.

The confrontation outside continued and later, Mr Khan posed for cameras seated at a long table, showing off piles of spent tear gas shells he said had been collected from around his home.

“What crime did I commit that my house has been attacked like this?” he tweeted.

At the Islamabad High Court, Mr Khan’s lawyer Khawaja Haris and his team petitioned for the suspension of the arrest warrant for the former premier. A ruling was expected later on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, about a dozen police and some 35 of Mr Khan’s supporters were reported injured as supporters fought back with batons they had brought to resist police.

The Punjab provincial government said on Wednesday that more than 100 police officers were injured.

Mr Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament last April, was ordered to appear before a judge in Islamabad on Friday to answer charges of illegally selling state gifts he had received during his term as premier and concealing his assets.

He has avoided court appearances since November, when he was wounded in a gun attack at a protest in eastern Punjab province, claiming he was not medically fit to travel to Islamabad to face indictment.

Last week, he went to Islamabad to appear before three courts but failed to appear before a fourth court to face indictment in the graft case.

Mr Khan claims the string of cases against him, which includes terrorism charges, are a plot by the government of his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, to discredit him.

From his home, Mr Khan urged his followers to fight on even if he was arrested.

“They think this nation will fall asleep when Imran Khan is jailed,” he wrote on Twitter. “You need to prove them wrong.”


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