Police showed up at former Prime Minister Khan’s residence to issue him an arrest warrant, prompting hundreds to protest outside his home.
Agents arrived at the residence of former Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday in an attempt to arrest him in a case related to the buying and selling of gifts, the latest in a string of legal troubles he has been embroiled in.
According to police, Khan “avoided” arrest after officers arrived at his home in Lahore, adding that a police inspector “went to the room” but the 70-year-old was not there.
Since being removed from power in April 2022, Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) says he has been charged in 70 counts, including sedition, corruption and terrorism. Khan has denied all charges against him.
Here’s what you need to know:
What are the charges against Khan?
One of the most significant cases against Khan was brought in August by a member of the ruling Pakistani Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), who alleged that the former prime minister bought gifts given by foreign dignitaries from the state gift depository, also known as Toshakhana. but did not disclose the assets in statements filed with the Election Commission of Pakistan.
Khan has denied the allegations, saying he bought the gifts according to official rules and guidelines and declared them on his tax return.
Two months later, the ECP suspended Khan from the existing parliament, accusing him of “corrupt practices”.
The 70-year-old’s legal team rejected the commission’s decision, calling the verdict not only an attack on Khan, but also “the Pakistani constitution and its people”.
In another high-profile case, Khan was charged with “terrorism” in August over comments made at a public rally in Islamabad against police officials and a female judge who ordered the arrest of one of his top aides – Shahbaz Gill, who accused the police of accused authorities of torture.
In his speech, Khan had reportedly threatened “action” by taking legal action against top Islamabad police officials and Judge Zeba Chaudhry.
Islamabad’s Supreme Court dismissed charges against him in September, saying his comments did not reach the level of “terrorism”.
Also in August, the Election Commission ruled that Khan’s party was receiving illegal funds, which could lead to the former cricket star and the PTI being banned from politics.
In a case that has dragged on for eight years, PTI was accused of receiving money from abroad, which is illegal in Pakistan. The PTI has denied allegations that all the lenders were Pakistani nationals.
Why is all this happening?
In April, Khan was forced to resign by the ruling Pakistan Democratic Movement coalition – an organization made up of more than 10 parties – in a vote of no confidence, after three and a half years in power.
The parliamentary move placed him on a long list of elected Pakistani prime ministers who have failed to complete their full term – none have done so since independence in 1947.
Since then, Khan has been holding nationwide protests to push the government for early elections due in October, withdrawing from parliament and dissolving the two provincial assemblies controlled by his party in a bid to force the hand of the government.
He has claimed he was removed as part of a US-led conspiracy that also involved Pakistan’s powerful military establishment and its political rivals.
What has been the public reaction?
Since his removal, large swathes of the public have rallied behind the former cricketing legend, with thousands of people attending his rallies across the country, proof that he remains highly popular.
In the past 10 months, Khan’s party has won several national and provincial by-elections, including in PML-N strongholds, strengthening his electoral power. The PTI is also seen by observers as a leading contender in the upcoming polls in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab provinces.
Analysts also say Khan enjoys support among Pakistan’s military personnel, both serving and retired.
Support for Khan has also grown since an attempt was made on his life in November that killed a party member and injured a dozen others.