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Police officials reportedly opened fire when they stormed the residence of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan in Lahore on Saturday. Minutes earlier, his convoy was stopped at the Islamabad toll plaza after the vehicles in it collided, injuring three people.
Local media reports said Khan's wife was at the residence that police entered. Videos from the spot showed his supporters being lathi-charged as security officials stormed the premises. Khan was on his way to Islamabad to appear in court in connection with the Toshakhan case when the chaos began. Visuals from the toll plaza showed the car turned into a turtle as people surrounded it amid a heavy police presence.
Reacting to the development, the former prime minister said it was all part of a "London plan" to arrest him and bring Nawaz Sharif back to power. “I knew the government's intentions, which was not their belief in the rule of law, but to arrest me. I am on my way to the courts knowing I will be arrested. I believe in the rule of law but not the government,” Khan said in the video. “It is part of London's plan to imprison me based on Nawaz Sharif's demands so that I cannot participate in the elections. I know they want to arrest me, but I want to say that I believe in the rule of law,” he said. Khan has been evading arrest despite protracted efforts by law enforcement officials to arrest him for skipping several previous hearings in the case.
This comes a day after the Lahore High Court (LHC) granted anticipatory bail to the former prime minister in eight terrorism cases and one civil case. A two-judge bench of the LHC comprising Justice Tariq Saleem Sheikh and Justice Farooq Haider conducted a hearing on the bail pleas filed against the cases which are filed under terrorism sections, according to reports.
In five cases in Islamabad, the court granted bail to the PTI chief till March 24 and in three cases in Lahore, Khan was granted bail till March 27, the report said. Ahead of the decision on the LHC, a tense calm prevailed at Lahore's posh Zaman Park near Khan's residence, which was the scene of two days of pitched battles between his defiant supporters and the Punjab police. The clashes eventually died down after the courts intervened on Wednesday.
Khan was wanted for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he received as prime minister at a discounted price from a state depository called Toshakhana, and selling them for a profit. Established in 1974, Toshakhana is a department under the administrative control of the Cabinet Department and preserves rare gifts given to rulers, members of parliament, bureaucrats and officials by heads of other governments and states and foreign dignitaries.
Khan was disqualified by the Election Commission of Pakistan in October last year for failing to disclose details of the sale. The electoral body later filed a complaint with the district court to punish him under criminal laws for selling gifts he received as the country's prime minister. Khan has vehemently denied the allegations. According to Khan, he has faced more than 80 different cases in different courts across Pakistan. Khan, a cricketer-turned-politician, was ousted from power in April last year after losing a no-confidence vote in what he claimed was part of a US-led plot to target him for his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China , and Afghanistan.