Pakistani police served arrest warrants to the former prime minister Imran Khan to ensure his appearance in court on charges of misusing his office to sell state gifts, authorities have said, after Khan’s supporters tried to prevent police entry into his home.
The election commission of Pakistan in October found the 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician guilty of unlawfully selling gifts from foreign dignitaries.
The Federal Investigation Agency then filed charges against him in an anti-graft court, which last week issued the arrest warrants after Khan failed to appear in court despite repeated summons.
Khan has been demanding a snap election since he was removed from office in a parliamentary vote early in 2022, a demand that was rejected by his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, who has said the vote would be held as scheduled later this year.
Khan led countrywide protest campaigns to press for an early vote last year and was shot at and wounded at one of the rallies.
Referring to his absence from court and the shooting incident, Khan said on Sunday: “They [the police] know there is a threat against my life,” adding that the courts did not provide adequate security.
Khan’s aide Fawad Chaudhry said he couldn’t be arrested because he had secured protective bail from a high court.
Chaudhry said the government wanted to sow political chaos and avoid an early election by arresting the former premier, who was still popular among the country’s youth and urban voters.
Islamabad police said in a statement that when Khan wasn’t found at his residence in Lahore, they served the arrest warrants.
Khan is required to appear in court on 7 March. If he fails to do so, police will be required to arrest him and present him to court, according to the interior minister, Rana Sanaullah.