Friday, October 27, 2023

Pakistan court cancels arrest warrants for former PM Imran Khan


Former Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan has had his arrest warrants cancelled in a corruption case, according to his lawyer. The court in Islamabad adjourned the session and instructed Khan to ensure his presence at the next hearing on 30 March. The warrants were cancelled after Khan officially marked his appearance at the court. Khan’s car reached the gate of the court building on Saturday during confrontations between police and supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. The chief of Islamabad Police, Akbar Nasir Khan, said PTI workers threw stones and fired tear gas at police “without any provocation”. The official said police responded with tear gas.

Earlier on Saturday, police in Lahore stormed Khan’s residence, breaking down the entrance gate to gain access as officers clashed with PTI supporters. Police said they arrested more than 60 people. Usman Anwar, inspector general of the Punjab Police, said authorities completed a search and recovered weapons, including Klashnikov rifles and a large number of bullets. Speaking at a press conference in Lahore, Anwar said police were fired upon by PTI workers inside the property. Khan condemned the raid and said it was carried out while his wife was alone at home.

The corruption case against Khan has been brought by the Election Commission of Pakistan. The electoral watchdog had accused him of not declaring gifts received during his time as prime minister from 2018 to 2022 or profits made from selling them. Khan has denied the charges and called them politically motivated. The former prime minister has expressed concerns that the authorities were planning to arrest him, a move that he said is aimed at preventing him from contesting elections this year.

Pakistan’s Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) issued orders on Saturday to restrict live coverage of events outside the Islamabad Judicial Complex, where Khan’s court hearing took place. In a statement, the watchdog referred to the clashes that took place between PTI workers and police near Khan’s residence in Lahore and said it had “observed with concern” that satellite TV channels were “showing live footages/images of a violent mob, attacks on police and law enforcing agencies”.

The legal proceedings against Khan began soon after he was removed from office in a parliamentary vote last year. Since then, he has been demanding snap elections and holding nationwide protest rallies, including one in which he was shot and wounded.

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