Pakistani court upholds arrest order of ex-prime minister Khan

Islamabad, Mar 6 (EFE).- A Pakistani court Monday upheld the non-bailable arrest warrant against former prime minister Imran Khan on charges of selling state gifts and hiding his assets.

The Islamabad police served the arrest warrants to Khan Sunday and attempted to arrest him from his Lahore residence.

But cops who came to arrest the opposition leader were pushed back by hundreds of his supporters amid a deepening political crisis,

Leaders from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf told the police that the former prime minister was “not available.”

On Monday, the court upheld the warrants that could potentially send Khan behind bars if his bail is not accepted.

“The Islamabad court today upheld arrest warrants for Imran Khan but we have also filed application for pre-arrest bail in the Lahore High court,” his lawyer Azhar Siddique told EFE.

Following his ouster from the top office, police registered more than 70 cases against Khan, including on terrorism charges.

He blames the government and powerful military for his “political victimization.”

Last week, the opposition leader got bail in three cases – illegal funding for his party, terrorism, and resorting to violence outside the election commission, leading to an attempted murder of a politician from the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) by his party workers.

He had appeared before three different courts in Islamabad.

But the same day, another court issued arrest warrants against Khan in what is known as the Toshakhana or treasure-house case of selling state gifts and concealing assets as premier.

A court disqualified Khan from holding public office and was stripped of his National Assembly seat on these charges last year.

He may be indicted on the charges of selling state gifts given by foreign dignitaries and not declaring them in his assets to the election commission.

The district and sessions court had, in warrants, ordered the police to arrest Khan and produce him before the court in a hearing over his continuous absence.

However, when police arrived to arrest him, the former prime minister fortified himself inside his house.

Hundreds of his party supporters surrounded the residence to stop the police from entering it.

Live images broadcast on local TV showed police trying to enter Khan’s residence and supporters pushing them back.

On Monday, federal Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said Khan would be arrested “at any cost” if he did not turn up before the court on Tuesday.

“He must face the charges against him and surrender to police. Otherwise, the police will arrest him whatever the cost maybe to uphold the constitution,” Sanaullah told reporters in Islamabad.

Pakistan’s media regulator on Sunday imposed a complete ban on broadcasting Khan’s speeches or press conferences live or recorded on satellite TV channels with immediate effect.

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