Imran Khan, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, made an appearance in court on Saturday after a tense standoff with police that resulted in clashes between his supporters and law enforcement. Khan, who served as the country’s leader from 2018 to 2022, is currently facing several legal challenges, including allegations of unlawfully selling state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries during his time in office.
Despite local media reports stating that the trial court in Islamabad had cancelled the warrants for his arrest following his court appearance, Khan was ultimately unable to physically enter the courtroom due to the chaos and clashes that erupted around the complex.
According to reports, Khan’s vehicle managed to reach the judicial complex in the capital city amidst the ongoing clashes between his supporters and the police. However, the situation around the courthouse made it impossible for him to enter the premises, and he was ultimately allowed by the judge to sign his presence from his vehicle.
One of Khan’s aides, Fawad Chaudhry, confirmed to Reuters that the former Prime Minister’s presence had been officially recorded by the court before he left to return to his home in Lahore.
The clashes between Khan’s supporters and the police continued throughout the day, with the law enforcement firing teargas at the former Prime Minister’s supporters. Several of his supporters were later arrested over allegations of attacking officers during the clashes. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif criticized Khan on Twitter, accusing him of using people as human shields and attempting to intimidate the judiciary.
Earlier on Saturday, the police had entered Khan’s home in Lahore after he left for his court appearance in Islamabad and arrested several of his supporters over allegations of attacks against officers during the clashes earlier in the week. Another one of Khan’s aides, Shireen Mazari, claimed that the police had broken down the front gate of Khan’s home.
The police chief for Punjab province, Usman Anwar, told reporters during a media conference in Lahore that the officers had gone to Khan’s house on Saturday to intercept people who had been involved in the earlier clashes with the police. The police claimed to have arrested 61 people, including for throwing petrol bombs.
Khan’s party shared with journalists footage that appeared to show police in the garden of the Lahore home beating his supporters with batons. Khan later stated that his wife was alone in the house during the raid.
The Pakistani Interior Minister, Rana Sanaullah, told Geo News that the police had recovered weapons from the premises outside Khan’s home and that they had a warrant to carry out the search. Sanaullah also stated that law enforcement personnel did not enter the residence, remaining in the garden and driveway.
Imran Khan’s legal challenges have been a source of controversy and tension in Pakistan for some time. On Tuesday, his supporters prevented the police from entering his premises, resulting in a failed attempt to arrest him. During the attempt, authorities claimed that they were attacked by petrol bombs, iron rods, and slingshots.
Despite his absence from the courtroom on Saturday, Khan’s appearance has sparked renewed interest in the case against him. The former Prime Minister maintains that he followed legal procedures in acquiring the gifts in question, and his supporters continue to show their loyalty to him in the face of the legal challenges he currently faces.