In a temporary relief for Imran Khan, a Pakistani court on Wednesday ordered the police to stop till Thursday its operation outside the former prime minister's residence to arrest him in a corruption case after a scuffle between the security personnel and his supporters. Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party on Tuesday challenged the police operation in the Lahore High Court, requesting it to direct the government to end it.
On Wednesday, the Lahore High Court (LHC) stopped police operation at Zaman Park till 10 am Thursday, the Dawn newspaper reported. Hearing the petition filed by PTI leader Fawad Chaudhry, LHC’s Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh passed these orders, the paper said.
Earlier, the court had instructed the Punjab inspector general, chief secretary and Islamabad police (operations) head to appear in court by 3 pm.
In a separate development, Islamabad High Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment on a petition filed by Khan to suspend arrest warrants against him in the Toshakhana case.
The district and sessions court in Islamabad on February 28 issued non-bailable arrest orders against Khan in the Toshakhana case about the concealment of the proceeds from the sale of state gifts.
The Islamabad High Court heard the petition by Khan against arrest orders. He also submitted an affidavit through his counsel that he would appear before the court at the next hearing on March 18.
Chief Justice Amir Farooq observed during the hearing that the court would come out with an order to avoid conflict and ensure respect for the courts.
The court reserved the decision without giving any time when it would be announced today.
Khan was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan last year in October for not sharing details of the sales. The election body later filed a complaint with the district court to punish him under criminal laws for selling the gifts he had received as prime minister of the country.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Rangers and police personnel who were closing in on Khan's residence to arrest him in a corruption case on Wednesday started retreating, prompting cheers and celebrations among his supporters.
In a tweet, the party said that more workers were reaching Zaman Park and vowed not to let the "impure intentions" of the coalition government succeed.
Earlier in the day, authorities deployed the elite Rangers outside Khan's residence, a day after clashes with police left over 60 people injured, including 54 policemen.
Zaman Park area turns into a battleground
Lahore's Zaman Park area was turned into a battleground after 70-year-old Khan's defiant supporters engaged in pitched battles with policemen on Tuesday to stop them from arresting their leader in the Toshakhana case, resulting in injuries on both sides.
Khan has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.
Established in 1974, the Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Division and stores precious gifts given to rulers, parliamentarians, bureaucrats, and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
Khan was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China and Afghanistan.