Imran Khan dodges arrest after Islamabad Police show up at his residence


Lahore: A team of Islamabad police on Sunday reached Lahore residence of ousted prime minister Imran Khan to arrest him in the Toshakhana case, but returned after assurance from his legal team that he will appear before the court on March 7.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) vice chairman and former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said there is no mention of “arrest” in the warrants as an Islamabad sessions court has asked him to appear before it on March 7 in the Toshakhana case.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned politician, who has been recovering from a gunshot injury from an assassination attempt in Wazirabad last year, has thrice skipped indictment hearings in the case.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.

The court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Khan last week and adjourned the hearing till March 7 for his repeated failure to appear before the court.

Meanwhile, Lahore police have closed the main road leading to the Zaman Park residence of Khan by placing containers. Riot police and water cannons are currently present near Khan’s residence. His party fears that police may raid Khan’s house anytime. However, it said the party workers will foil any such attempt.

Punjab Inspector General of Police Dr Usman Anwar said in a statement that Punjab police would cooperate with Islamabad police to implement the court’s order regarding Khan’s case. He, however, did not say that police are going to arrest Khan.

“Punjab police will help Islamabad police in implementing the court’s order,” he said.

The Prime Minister’s special assistant on interior Attaullah Tarar told reporters that the Islamabad police went to Khan’s residence to deliver a notice to him to appear before a court in the Toshakhana case on March 7 when he will be indicted in the case.

“Today Imran Khan locked himself in a room in Zaman Park. Khan’s chief of staff Shibli Faraz said he wasn’t at home when the Islamabad police came to deliver a court’s notice. But Khan later appeared from his house addressing the party workers,” Tarar said.

A large number of PTI workers reached the Zaman Park following the news of his possible arrest. “Arrest of Imran Khan is our red line and we will not allow this,” PTI senior leader Shafqat Mahmood said.

As the Islamabad police were present outside his residence to deliver the court’s order, Khan was speaking at the gathering of those workers arrested in Jail Bharo Tehreek’ (court arrest movement) at his residence.

Khan claimed “they” wanted to kill him while on the way to his court appearance. “They have made yet another plan to kill me during a court appearance,” he alleged.

“I will write to the chief justice of Pakistan telling him that 74 false cases have been registered against me. I have a threat to my life from those who are supposed to protect me,” he said, in an indirect reference to the establishment.

“Take an example of criminals like (Prime Minister) Shehbaz Sharif and (Interior Minister) Rana Sanaullah who were involved in killing people and an attempt on his life (in Wazirabad in November last year) ” he said.

Khan also named “Dirty Harry’, a reference to a top ISI officer, for brutal torture of his party leaders and social media activists. “Dirty Harry is a psychopath. He is a sick man. There is a threat to my life from such people,” he said.

In a series of tweets, the Islamabad Police earlier said an operation to arrest Khan was being conducted with the cooperation of the Lahore police.

“Imran Khan is avoiding the arrest. The superintendent of police had gone into Imran’s room but he was not present there. Islamabad Police will transfer Imran Khan to Islamabad under their protection. Law is equal for all. Legal action will be taken against those obstructing the execution of court orders,” the Islamabad police said.

The Islamabad police said its team is still present in Lahore.

IG Islamabad Akbar Nasir said that the court has ordered police to present Khan before it by March 7 after arresting him.

“The Islamabad police team will remain in Lahore till further orders,” he said.

Meanwhile, senior PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry told reporters that Khan is filing a protective bail petition in the Lahore High Court in the attack on Islamabad judicial complex.

Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.

Since his ouster, Khan has been clamouring for immediate elections to oust what he termed was an “imported government” led by prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Sharif has maintained that elections will be held later this year once the parliament completes its five-year tenure.

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( With inputs from )

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