New Delhi: Imran Khan’s supporters clashed with the police outside his residence in Lahore ahead of his imminent arrest on Tuesday, and his party workers held protests in several cities after the former Pakistan prime minister gave asked them to take to the streets.
The series of events began around 2 pm local time, when according to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, armoured police vehicles arrived outside Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore “with the intention of arresting” him. An Islamabad district and sessions court had on Monday issued arrest warrants against Khan, who has skipped hearings in a case that alleges the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chairman profited from the illegal sale of presents that he received as prime minister. The court directed the police to present Khan in court by March 18.
As PTI supporters gathered outside Khan’s residence in large numbers and pelted stones at the police. The latter used water cannons and tear gas in an attempt to disperse them.
Khan, in a video posted on Twitter, urged people to take to the streets. “They think that after I am arrested, the nation will fall asleep. You have to prove them wrong,” he said.
My message to the nation to stand resolute and fight for Haqeeqi Azadi & rule of law. pic.twitter.com/bgVuOjsmHG
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) March 14, 2023
Subsequently, protests broke out in major cities like Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi and Rawalpindi, according to Dawn.
Intermittent tear gas shelling was ongoing at Khan’s residence, with the police camped out at a security barrier outside the neighbourhood. PTI workers “have laid siege” to the path leading to the residence, Dawn said.
Pakistan’s interior minister Rana Sanaullah reportedly said that Khan will be arrested on Tuesday night and presented in court.
The allegation against Khan is that he illegally sold gifts that he received when he was the prime minister of Pakistan. Finding him guilty of “intentionally and deliberately” breaking the laws, the Election Commission of Pakistan has ordered the expulsion of Imran Khan as a member of Pakistan’s National Assembly and ordered a criminal proceeding against him.
It is called the “Toshakhana case”, after the department which stores gifts and other expensive items received by public officials. According to the rules, officials are mandated to report gifts received by them to the Cabinet Division. The president and the prime minister are allowed to keep gifts that cost less than Pakistani rupee (PKR) 30,000. More expensive gifts can also be retained by paying a certain percentage of their value assessed by the government.
Note: An earlier version of this story erroneously said Zaman Park was in Islamabad, not Lahore.