A Pakistani judge on Saturday quashed the arrest warrant for former Prime Minister Imran Khan, his lawyer said, after the former cricket star skipped several hearings to go to court.
The 70-year-old has been embroiled in a string of court cases since he was ousted last year on a no-confidence motion and has been pressuring the fragile coalition government that replaced him to call early elections.
Supporters of Imran Khan clashed with police sent to the eastern city of Lahore to arrest him earlier this week after he failed to appear in court on graft charges, citing security concerns.
“The court canceled the arrest warrant after marking Imran Khan’s presence. The hearing has been adjourned until March 30,” Gohar Khan, one of Khan’s lawyers, told AFP.
After several days of legal wrangling, Khan walked more than 300 kilometers from Lahore to the Islamabad courthouse but was unable to get out of his car.
Some 4,000 supporters surrounded the complex, throwing rocks and bricks at police, who responded with tear gas.
However, the court accepted Khan’s presence, his lawyer said.
The case was brought by the Election Commission of Pakistan, which accused Imran Khan of failing to declare the gifts he received while he was prime minister, or the profits from the sale of those gifts.
Pakistani courts are often used to hobble lawmakers in lengthy proceedings that rights monitors have criticized for stifling political opposition.
Imran Khan claims authorities want to put him in prison so he cannot campaign for upcoming elections.
Some 4,000 security officials, including elite police commandos, anti-terror squads and paramilitary rangers, have been deployed around Islamabad, and hospitals are also on high alert.
Meanwhile, police raided his house in a posh Lahore neighborhood after blocking nearby roads and suspending mobile services in the area.
Pakistan, hit by a deep recession as the political drama unfolds, is at risk of default if it fails to get help from the International Monetary Fund.
The security situation is also deteriorating due to a series of deadly attacks on police officers linked to the Pakistani Taliban.
Khan, who was shot in the leg at a political rally last year, blamed Prime Minister Sheikh Baz Sharif for the assassination.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)