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Imran Khan's arrest warrants cancelled

March 19, 2023 00:00:00

IALAMABAD, Mar 18 (DAWN): PTI Chairman Imran Khan's arrest warrants in Toshakhana case were cancelled on Saturday as Additional District and Sessions Judge (ADSJ) Zafar Iqbal allowed him to leave after marking his attendance due to clashes between Islamabad Police and PTI workers outside the Judicial Complex.

The hearing was adjourned till March 30 (Thursday) due to the turbulence and chaos witnessed today, with the judge ordering Imran to appear in personal capacity in the next hearing.

Dawn.com's correspondent at the scene confirmed those inside the courtroom had faced difficulties due to the effects of the teargas used by the police and the windows were pelted by stones as well.

Meanwhile, PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi told Ary News from the Islamabad High Court that "all legal process [for the signature] has been completed" and said that Imran was departing from the Judicial Complex.

Facing a spate of legal challenges, including one that prompted a failed attempt to arrest him on Tuesday, Khan was addressing charges in the court in the capital Islamabad of unlawfully selling state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries while in office.

Khan says he followed legal procedures in acquiring the gifts. Hours earlier at his home in Lahore, the former cricket legend said he has formed a committee to lead his party if he is arrested.

He has led nationwide protests after his ouster from power last year and has had a spate of cases registered against him. The police unsuccessfully tried to arrest him on Tuesday.

Police entered his property after Khan entered the Islamabad court. Earlier this week, police and Khan's supporters clashed outside his home earlier during the arrest attempt.

Khan, who was shot and wounded while campaigning in November, said in an interview the threat to his life is greater than before and asserted - without providing evidence - that his political opponents and the military want to block him from standing in elections later this year.

The military and government did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Security was tight around the judicial complex where Khan, 70, arrived in a motorcade surrounded by supporters.

The court has previously issued arrest warrants for Khan in the case as he had failed to appear on previous hearings despite summons.

On his assurance that he would appear on Saturday, the court granted Khan protection against arrest, but he said he feared the police and government planned to take him into custody.

"It is now clear that, despite my having gotten bail in all my cases, the (Pakistan Democratic Movement coalition) govt intends to arrest me. Despite knowing their malafide intentions, I am proceeding to Islamabad & the court bec(ause) I believe in rule of law," Khan said on Twitter.

"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."

Pakistan's information minister said this week the government had nothing to do with the police action and the police were complying with court orders.

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