Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was seen in a gas mask minutes after security forces withdrew from around his home on Wednesday. The police and paramilitary rangers retreated after abandoning a series of roadblocks and checkpoints, ending a siege of his residence after violent clashes with hundreds of his supporters.
Imran Khan was seen standing outside his home, wearing a transparent gas mask and talking to supporters.
Imran khan seen wearing protective gas mask in his residence while his supporters are risking their lives on streets. #imrankhanPTI#ImranKhanArrest#Zaman_Park_Lahore#ZamanPark_under_attackpic.twitter.com/Ak0TTSt7YV
— ntg (@9_0_9_0_1) March 15, 2023
Earlier, security forces had fired tear gas and water cannons at hundreds of Mr Khan’s supporters who had cordoned off his home in an effort to prevent his arrest.
In a temporary relief, a Pakistani court today ordered the police to stop till Thursday its operation outside the former Prime Minister’s residence to arrest him in a corruption case.
“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.”
Police had clashed with Mr Khan’s supporters throughout the night, firing fusillades of teargas and dodging rocks thrown by angry crowds.
The unrest added to the instability in nuclear-armed Pakistan, which is struggling with an economic crisis and awaiting an International Monetary Fund bailout.
A lower court in the capital Islamabad had last week issued an arrest warrant against Mr Khan for defying orders to present himself in court to defend charges that he unlawfully sold state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries while he was Prime Minister from 2018 to 2022.
According to a list shared by Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb last year, the gifts given to Mr Khan included seven expensive wrist watches, including one valued at 85 million Pakistani rupees (about $300,000).
Imran Khan has denied wrongdoing.
Mr Khan was 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.
(With inputs from AFP)