Pakistan's ex-pm Imran Khan appears in court after fear of arrest

Pakistan's ex-pm Imran Khan appears in court after fear of arrest

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani former prime minister Imran Khan was due to appear in court on Saturday, after he expressed fear of arrest in a standoff with the government that has resulted in a number of violent confrontations with his supporters.

After leaving his court appearance in Islamabad, police entered Khan's home in the city of Lahore.

Khan, who is in office from 2018 to 2022, is facing a series of legal challenges, including one that caused a failed attempt to arrest him on Tuesday.

He was to face charges in court on Saturday of unlawfully selling state gifts given to him by foreign dignitaries while he was in office.

Khan said he followed legal procedures in acquiring the gifts.

On Saturday afternoon, the 70-year-old reached the capital and was on his way to the court in a motorcade surrounded by supporters.

The police chief told local broadcaster Geo News that Khan's supporters had attacked police near the court and fired tear gas shells, prompting police to fire more tear gas back.

Since his ouster from power last year, Khan has led nationwide protests and has had a number of cases registered against him.

The police chief for Punjab province, Usman Anwar, told a media conference in Lahore that officers went to Khan's house on Saturday to intercept people who had been involved in earlier clashes with police and had arrested 61 people, including for throwing petrol bombs.

Earlier this week, police and Khan's supporters clashed outside his home during the arrest attempt.

The former cricket star told Reuters he has formed a committee to lead his party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf PTI if he is arrested.

Khan, who was shot and wounded while campaigning in November, said in the interview that the threat to his life is greater than before and asserted that his political opponents and military want to block him from standing in elections later this year.

The military and government didn't respond immediately to requests for comment.

The government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has denied being behind the cases against Khan. The military, which has an outsized role in Pakistan, has ruled the country for nearly half of its 75-year history, and has said it remains neutral towards politics.