A Lahore court ordered Pakistan police to halt their operation to arrest former prime minister Imran Khan till 10 am tomorrow. The order came after police fought pitched battles with Mr Khan’s supporters today outside his house in Lahore, firing fusillades of teargas and dodging rocks thrown by angry crowds.
Water cannons and rounds of tear gas were also fired at his supporters as teams of riot police tried to push Mr Khan’s supporters away from his home, television footage showed.
Groups of police were seen running in disarray from the direction of the house today afternoon.
“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.
Another video showed Imran Khan come out of his residence, in a mask, to meet party workers and his supporters.
The 70-year-old politician, also a cricket legend, is wanted in the Toshakhana corruption case. Last year, he was found guilty of illegally selling gifts he received from foreign dignitaries during his term as prime minister. An arrest warrant was issued against Mr Khan after he skipped summons.
A similar drama played out earlier this month when police circled his private residence in the central city of Lahore, with a warrant in hand for the same case but were unable to arrest him.
Mr Khan alleges that the move to arrest him is part of the “London plan” and is aimed at silencing his demand for early elections. “This is part of the London plan and an agreement has been signed there to put Imran in jail, make the PTI fall and finish all cases against Nawaz Sharif,” he has said.
Following his ouster as prime minister last year, Imran Khan has been demanding snap polls. The demand has been rejected by his successor Shehbaz Sharif.