LAHORE (AP) – A Pakistani court yesterday extended a pause in the effort to arrest former premier Imran Khan, a sign of easing tension in the country’s cultural capital after clashes erupted this week when police tried to detain him.
The decision is a reprieve for Khan, who was due to be arrested a few hours earlier. The Lahore High Court ordered police to suspend the plan to arrest the 70-year-old opposition leader until today. It also asked Khan’s legal team for talks to resolve the issue.
Yesterday’s order sent a wave of relief through Khan’s stick-wielding supporters, who were prepared to prevent police from reaching Khan’s house in Lahore, the capital of Punjab province. Despite the order, however, police and paramilitary rangers deployed for Khan’s arrest were not immediately withdrawn.
Usman Anwar, the police chief in the Punjab province, said the violence in Lahore began on Tuesday when officers went to comply with the court order and arrest Khan. But, he said, Khan’s supporters started throwing stones at officers, who were unarmed and only carrying batons.
“We will comply with the court order, and we will do it,” he told a local Geo TV station.
In Islamabad, Khan’s legal team yesterday asked judge Zafar Iqbal to suspend the arrest warrants he had issued last week for Khan, who is accused of illegally selling state gifts and concealing his assets.
Iqbal gave no indication of whether he will suspend the arrest warrants for Khan. Instead, he asked why Khan resisted when officers went to his house to arrest him.