Lahore High Court’s order ends a wave of violence in which supporters of the ex-premier clashed with security forces.
A Pakistani high court has ordered police to postpone an operation to arrest Imran Khan until Friday.
Khan’s aide Fawad Chaudhry said on Thursday that the Lahore High Court has extended an order to halt the police operation for another day. State Information Minister Amir Mir confirmed the court order.
The court also ordered Khan’s Pakistani party Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) not to hold the scheduled election rally in Lahore on Sunday, when the final match of the ongoing Pakistan Super League (PSL) Twenty20 cricket tournament will be played in the city.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, dozens of Khan’s supporters, armed with batons and slingshots, barricaded his home to prevent security forces from arresting him for failing to show up in court in a case accusing him of illegally selling state gifts to him when he was prime minister. Khan denies the allegations.
The court-ordered attempt to arrest Khan, which began on Tuesday, sparked clashes between his supporters and security forces in his Lahore district, sparking fears for political stability in nuclear-armed Pakistan, which is facing an economic crisis.
The violence, in which protesters set fire to police vehicles, a water cannon truck and dozens of cars and motorcycles and threw petrol bombs at security forces with tear gas and rubber bullets, subsided after the Supreme Court halted the police operation on Wednesday.
A lower court in Islamabad had issued an arrest warrant for former international cricketer Khan for disobeying orders to present himself in court on charges that he unlawfully sold state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries when he was prime minister from 2018 to 2022. Khan denies the allegations.
Pakistan’s Election Commission had found Khan guilty and barred him from holding public office for one term.
The legal proceedings against Khan began after he was removed from office by a parliamentary vote early last year. He has since demanded snap elections and held nationwide protest rallies, and was shot and wounded at one of these rallies.
Current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has rejected Khan’s demands and said elections will take place later this year as scheduled.