Pakistani High Court suspends arrest warrant for ex-PM – Reuters

Earlier attempts to arrest Imran Khan sparked violent clashes between police and his supporters

Pakistan’s High Court has suspended the arrest warrant against former Prime Minister Imran Khan, local media Dawn reported on Friday. It follows a tense standoff between police and the politician’s supporters during an unsuccessful attempt to enforce the warrant.

The Lahore High Court has ruled on bail in nine cases against Khan, who is the leader of Pakistan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party. He faces charges that required his arrest and appearance in court. However, judges granted Khan freedom until hearings on March 24 and 27 in Islamabad and Lahore, respectively.

A video posted on the party’s official Twitter account shows the PTI leader leaving court in a car following the judgment, on the roof of which was posted a man carrying an assault rifle. The vehicle was surrounded by a crowd of supporters armed with sticks.

The move comes just after an attempted arrest of the politician at his Lahore residence ended in a violent clash between authorities and PTI supporters on Wednesday. Khan wrote on Twitter that the true intention of the police was to “abduct and murder” rather than simply executing the warrant. He also claimed that law enforcement used tear gas, water cannons and even used live ammunition. It was not the first unsuccessful attempt to arrest Khan, as he also evaded police last week, saying the court lacked the necessary security to protect him from assassination attempts.

Khan assumed the post of Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2018 but was ousted in 2022 and has since been embroiled in legal disputes. The state accuses him of illegally selling state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries during his tenure as prime minister. Khan says the cases are politically motivated and aimed at preventing him from returning to power.

The PTI led protests across Pakistan and called for snap elections. During a November rally in Wazirabad, an assailant opened fire on Khan, wounding him and eight others.

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