The former prime minister Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore was invaded by over 10,000 police officers on Saturday morning even as he was on his way to Islamabad to attend a hearing in a corruption case against him. In a significant operation, the police personnel removed barricades from the entrance of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief’s residence and arrested dozens of workers of his party.
PTI supporters pelted stones at police officers outside Khan’s residence while trying to disperse the protesters. TV reports show five police officers and a senior officer were injured in the clash.
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Khan’s supporters have gathered in large numbers at various places in the city to show their solidarity with their leader, who is facing a series of corruption charges. To break up the protests, the police deployed a large force and sealed parts of the capital on Saturday.
Over the past few days, the protesters had fought pitched battles with security forces outside Khan’s residence to prevent him from being arrested in a corruption case against him. But the battles subsided after courts intervened on Wednesday.
During the crackdown, Khan alleged he was being targeted for violating an “agreement” with Washington called the “London Plan.” He said the agreement spelled out that he was being jailed for making his party fall and finishing all cases against exiled Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
He had also alleged that the Pakistani government was trying to kill him to make him fail in politics and to get him out of power. But he said his party would continue to fight for his rights and would not yield in the face of threats.
In a video message posted on Twitter, Khan asked his supporters to stand up for their rights and continue their struggle even if they were killed or arrested. The video, which he posted before the operation started, was quickly viewed millions of times by his supporters.
Meanwhile, a Lahore High Court has stopped the police from arresting him till 10 am on Thursday. The judge had fixed a hearing on his petition, which he has been seeking to cancel the arrest warrants issued for him in the Toshakhana case.
Khan has been accused of obstructing the government’s efforts to recover billions of dollars in cash and property belonging to former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif from his home and office. He has several cases against him, including an abettor-in-interest charge.
He has also been accused of failing to disclose gifts given to the government’s “Toshakhana” department. The Toshakhana department is charged with enforcing the country’s anti-corruption laws and was set up in 2013 after the government’s corruption scandal.
The Toshakhana case is the latest in a long list of charges against Khan. He and his wife, Bushra Begum, allegedly violated the government’s anti-corruption laws by diverting cash and property from the Toshakhana department to other entities.
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