Pakistan: Will Imran Khan be the big winner from the decision to arrest him?
After former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared in early March before three courts in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, and then failed to appear before a fourth court to face indictment in a graft case, the attempt to arrest the former cricket champion failed due his supporters confronting the Pakistani police obeying the court's orders to arrest Khan, at a time when the former prime minister and his lawyer claim that he fears a new assassination attempt months after he was shot during his participation in a demonstration. This prompted observers to confirm that the attempts of Khan's supporters to confront the police were “improper conduct.”
The 70-year-old former Pakistani prime minister was accused of not declaring the gifts he received while he was in power. However, he believes, according to observers of Pakistani affairs, that the series of cases brought against him, including charges related to terrorism, is a conspiracy orchestrated by the government of current Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to tarnish the image of the former cricket star turned Islamist politician.
Since his overthrow, Khan, who was shot at last year, has been pressing for early elections by organizing rallies, withdrawing from parliament, and dissolving two provincial councils controlled by his party in order to twist the government's arm.
Khan is facing accusations of selling gifts he obtained for political incentives while he was in office as prime minister. The Pakistani police tried to arrest him several times, but Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb confirmed that the attempt to arrest Khan had nothing to do with the elections, as the police are just implementing court orders to arrest him in corruption cases.
The Pakistani police failed to arrest Imran Khan and withdrew from the vicinity of his house after violent clashes with his supporters. They stopped the operation due to a large cricket match in the city and said they would resume after it ended in the evening, but a judicial decision prohibited the resumption of his detention until the evening.
On Wednesday, March 15, the Lahore High Court decided to suspend the arrest warrant for Khan, as local Pakistani media indicated that a judge in the Lahore High Court issued a decision ordering the security forces to suspend their procedures for arresting former Prime Minister Imran Khan until ten o'clock local time on the morning of Thursday, March 16.
Khan’s supporters quarrel
Khan's supporters refused to see him like the rest of the politicians inside the indictment cage. Immediately after the arrest warrant was issued, they clashed with the Pakistani police to prevent his arrest, while the police fired tear gas shells to disperse his supporters, who in turn threw stones at the security forces. Tension prevailed in the vicinity of Khan's house in the city of Lahore, in a scene that was filmed and circulated on social media.
Government officials, MPs, and some high-ranking administrators in Pakistan are required to declare the gifts they receive to be allowed to keep the cheapest ones, and they can also keep expensive gifts for a very small amount.
Regarding the police’s attempts to arrest Khan, the former prime minister confirmed in press statements that he is ready to leave politics if he is proven guilty in any case, provided that the trial is fair, adding that he is ready for dialogue with everyone.
Hudhaifa Farid, a researcher and analyst on Afghan affairs, confirmed that Imran Khan is the big winner whether he is arrested or not. If he is arrested, it will appear as if he is the Nelson Mandela of Pakistan, and if he is not arrested, they will say that the police were unable to arrest him and that no one will be able to stand up to him.
Farid said in exclusive statements to the Reference that Imran Khan's supporters preventing the police from arresting him is improper conduct, as members of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party asked its supporters to prevent the police from arresting the former prime minister. If Khan is arrested, the PTI will form a six-member committee to lead the party, and the committee will be led by Shah Mahmood Qureshi, she pointed out, adding that what is interesting about the matter is the absence of the names of PTI head Pervaiz Elahi and senior leader Fawad Chaudhry, as well as Asad Umar and Hammad Azhar.
Regarding the clashes that took place between the Pakistani police and Khan’s supporters, Farid confirmed that the most saddening thing is the politicians’ exploitation of the people, who are made to be shields, as only the people are shot and beaten, and only their blood is spilled. She added that the people die so that the politician can live, pointing to the need for wise people to intervene to spare the blood of the Pakistanis, and that all decision-makers should leave their differences aside, because before all else, the blood being spilled is Pakistani.