Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has defied a court order to appear before a judge on corruption charges, sparking clashes between his supporters and police outside his home in Lahore on Tuesday.
Imran Khan, who was ousted from power in a no-confidence vote last year, has been facing multiple legal cases against him, including corruption, terrorism and sedition charges. He has denied the allegations and claimed they are part of a political vendetta by his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. However, Khan himself has been accused of adopting the politics of victimization and using negative propaganda against his political rivals when he was in office. He has also been criticized for threatening a female judge and attacking the judiciary. Now, he has to face the same consequences that he inflicted on others as the police try to arrest him for failing to appear in court.
Khan had filed petitions in Lahore and Islamabad courts on Monday to suspend the arrest warrant, but the Islamabad court rejected his plea as he did not show up for the hearing. The Lahore court has yet to announce its verdict. Khan’s lawyers said he would appeal to the Islamabad High Court.
His supporters have clashed with police in various cities, blocking roads, throwing stones and setting fires. Police have fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse them. The violence has raised concerns about Pakistan’s stability and security as it faces economic and security crises.
Police had tried to arrest Khan on Sunday but failed to find him at his residence. On Monday, he addressed his supporters from his home and vowed to continue his campaign for early elections. He said he was not afraid of arrest and challenged the government to prove its legitimacy.
On Tuesday, police returned to Khan’s house with a warrant to bring him to court for the next hearing scheduled for Wednesday. They faced resistance from hundreds of Khan’s supporters who had gathered outside his home. The police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters who threw stones and bricks at them. Several people were injured on both sides.
The confrontation escalated the political tensions in Pakistan, which is facing an economic crisis and a looming default on its debt payments.
Khan, a former cricket star turned politician, has been mobilizing his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party and its allies to demand Sharif’s resignation and fresh polls. He has also faced multiple legal cases against him, including terrorism charges, which he has dismissed as politically motivated.
Khan’s supporters have warned that they will not accept his arrest and will stage nationwide protests if he is taken into custody. They have also called for a civil disobedience movement against the government. Khan’s opponents have accused him of destabilizing the country and undermining democracy.
The political deadlock has raised concerns about Pakistan’s stability and security as it borders Afghanistan, where the Taliban have taken over after the withdrawal of US-led forces.