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Police raid former Pakistani prime minister's home, arrest over 60 of his supporters

Police raid former Pakistani prime minister's home, arrest over 60 of his supporters

- Police take action after Imran Khan left his residence in northeastern city of Lahore for capital Islamabad to appear in court

By Islamuddin Sajid and Kiran Butt

ISLAMABAD / LAHORE, Pakistan (AA) – Local police raided former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan's residence in the northeastern city of Lahore on Saturday while he was on his way to the capital Islamabad to appear in court.

However, police detained dozens of members of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.

Authorities, supported by heavy police contingents, razed camps of Khan's supporters outside his residence and its main gate in the Zaman Park neighborhood to gain access to the premises, according to videos aired on local TV channels.

"Punjab police have led an assault on my house in Zaman Park where Bushra Begum (Khan's wife) is alone," Khan wrote on Twitter.

Previously, police also attempted to arrest Khan on Feb. 5 but were unsuccessful due to resistance from his supporters at his residence.

Police carried out the raid after Khan and his hundreds of supporters left for Islamabad to appear before Additional District and Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbalin, where he is expected to be indicted in a case involving the purchase and sale of gifts he received from foreign dignitaries while he was prime minister.

The country's Election Commission has filed a complaint against him for allegedly concealing details of gifts in his asset declarations.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah provided details of the raid to a local broadcaster, alleging that the police were fired upon from inside the residence.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told a local broadcaster that the police were fired on from inside the residence. A "no-go zone" has been established outside Imran's house, he told Geo News.

He claimed that all "terrorists" present inside the Zaman Park house had been apprehended and that a cache of explosives, petrol bombs, and bomb-making materials had been recovered from the site.

The provincial police chief later provided details about the weapons allegedly recovered from Khan's home during a press conference.

"We had a search warrant and entered the house after some people resisted," said Inspector General of Police Usman Anwar at a press conference in Lahore.

Those arrested are not innocent people, but miscreants who will be charged under terrorism laws and brought before a court, he added.

"I have a report of 61 arrests so far, but it could be more," said the senior police official.

Dr. Uzma Khan, Khan's sister, told reporters that her husband had been arrested by police.

"Police had no search warrants and told us that we were removing encroachments, but they arrested my husband and many Khan's supporters," she said.

Earlier, on his way from Lahore to Islamabad, Khan stated that while he is aware of the “government's intentions,” he still believes in the rule of law and intends to appear in court.

"It is now clear that, despite my having gotten bail in all my cases, the PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) govt intends to arrest me. Despite knowing their malafide intentions, I am proceeding to Islamabad & the court bec I believe in rule of law. But ill intent of this cabal of crooks shd be clear to all," Khan tweeted.

"It is also obvious now that the entire siege of Lahore was not about ensuring I appear before the court in a case but was intended to take me away to prison so that I am unable to lead our election campaign," he added.

On Tuesday, heavy police contingents, backed by paramilitary Rangers, surrounded Khan's residence after the Islamabad district court reinstated his arrest warrant for repeatedly avoiding hearings in a case involving the alleged illegal purchases and sales of gifts given by foreign dignitaries while he was prime minister from August 2018 to April 2022.

Later, the Lahore High Court barred police to continue operations and on Friday Islamabad High Court also suspended the district court order to arrest Khan and ordered him to appear on Saturday before the district court in Islamabad.

Around 100 police officers were injured during Tuesday's clashes between Khan's supporters and police, while Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party claimed that dozens of its workers were injured and arrested during the operation.

Khan, the country's only premier to be deposed by a no-confidence vote in the country's 75-year political history, is facing a slew of cases ranging from terrorism to attempted murder and money laundering.

Most of the cases, which Khan dubs a "sham," were lodged after his ouster. On Friday, he claimed that more than 90 cases had been filed against him.

Khan, 70, blames his unceremonious ouster on a US-backed conspiracy, an allegation that both the incumbent coalition government in Islamabad and Washington have repeatedly refuted.

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