Lahore, Pakistan (AP) – Pakistani police continued their siege around the home of former Prime Minister Imran Khan as his 24-hour deadline expired on Thursday.
The siege and the authorities’ demand for suspects wanted in violent protests over Mr Khan’s recent detention have angered many of the former prime minister’s supporters, creating tensions between them and the security forces. This raises concerns that further conflicts will occur in
Khan’s supporters stormed public property and military installations last week after he was dragged out of court and arrested in a corruption case. In the days that followed, at least 10 people were killed in clashes with police across the country. The violence subsided only after Pakistan’s Supreme Court ordered Mr Khan’s release.
The popular opposition leader was released from custody over the weekend and returned to his home in the posh district of Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city and capital of Punjab province. Dozens of his supporters are staying there with private guards. Police, who surrounded the house on Wednesday, said they were seeking the extradition of 40 suspects.
The ultimatum to Khan ended at 2 p.m. local time, but there were no immediate signs of unusual activity by police. Khan’s political party, Pakistan Tefrek-e-Insaf, invited reporters to the house to witness the police raid on the premises.
Usually 200 to 300 Khan supporters guard the mansion with sticks around the clock, but most have disappeared overnight. Police barricaded the main road leading to the house and urged residents to use alternative routes.
“Probably the last tweet before the next arrest,” the 70-year-old popular opposition leader tweeted Wednesday after the siege began. “The police surrounded my house.”
Khan later told his supporters that police could only search a home with a search warrant and “cannot break in and cause chaos”.
Punjab government spokesman Amir Mir said the police were prepared to use firearms if attacked. At a press conference on Thursday, he said at least 3,400 suspects involved in the clashes had been arrested and further raids were planned.
Pakistani authorities have announced that they will prosecute civilians who took part in recent anti-government demonstrations in military courts.
The announcement has drawn criticism from advocacy groups Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which oppose the trial of civilians in military courts. Military trials in Pakistan are usually held behind closed doors, depriving civilians of some basic rights, including having a lawyer of their choice.
Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament last year. He said the expulsions were illegal and attributed to a Western conspiracy.
He is currently facing more than 100 lawsuits, mostly on charges of inciting people to violence, intimidating officials, and violating bans on gatherings. He has also faced a corruption case with his wife and was summoned by the National Accounts Office on Thursday to answer questions related to the case.
But Khan is likely to ignore subpoenas from anti-corruption officials to appear for questioning at the Rawalpindi garrison. He is scheduled to speak at a supporter rally on the outskirts of Lahore later that day.
Associated Press reporter Mounir Ahmed, who lives in Islamabad, contributed to the report.
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https://wgnradio.com/news/ap-pakistani-police-besiege-imran-khans-home-as-deadline-for-him-to-hand-over-suspects-expires/ Pakistani police surround Imran Khan’s home as extradition deadline expires | Wagon Radio 720