Pakistani police on Saturday stormed the property of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore and arrested 30 people amid tear gas shelling, as he was arriving in the capital Islamabad for a court appearance.
Senior police officer Suhail Sukhera, who is leading the operation in a Lahore upscale neighborhood, said police moved to remove encroachments and blockade erected by Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party and his defiant supporters.
He said baton-wielding Khan supporters attempted to resist police by throwing stones and petrol bombs, but the officers moved on until a man on the roof of Khan’s residence opened fire. No one was hurt.
Sukhera said that police broke open the main door of Khan’s residence and found masks, petrol-filled bottles, iron rods and batons used in attacks on police during the week. Sukhera said that inside the sprawling residence, illegal structures were erected to shelter those who have been involved in attacks on police that have injured dozens of officers.
Witnesses said police attempted to disperse Khan supporters by firing tear gas and chased them to several homes in the upscale neighborhood of Zaman Park. Khan was expected to appear in an Islamabad court on Saturday after a top court Friday suspended his arrest warrant, giving him a reprieve to travel to Islamabad and face charges in a graft case without being detained.
Khan has been holed up at his home in Lahore since Tuesday, after failing to appear at an earlier hearing in the case. His supporters hurled stones and clashed with baton-wielding police for two days to protect the former premier from arrest.
Khan, during his road trip to Islamabad, said in a video message that the government had planned his arrest despite his travel to a hearing. He said police had broken into his residence in Lahore while his wife was alone at the home. He condemned the action and demanded those responsible are punished under law.
Khan, now in the opposition, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament last April. He is accused of selling state gifts while in office and concealing assets. It’s one in a string of cases that the former cricket star turned Islamist politician has been facing since his ouster.
The 70-year-old opposition leader has also claimed that his removal from power was part of a conspiracy by his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, and the United States. Both Washington and Sharif’s government have denied the allegations.