Supporters shield Khan from arrest

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AFP) — Hundreds of supporters gathered outside former prime minister Imran Khan’s house Monday to prevent his arrest for allegedly violating the anti-terrorism law.

Police filed charges against Khan after he threatened state officials, BBC News reported.

Former information minister Fawad Chaudhry also tweeted a warning to authorities against arresting Khan and called on his supporters to gather at his home in Bani Gala to show their solidarity with him.

“Imran Khan is our red line,” Chaudhry tweeted.

A First Information Report was filed with police Sunday — the first step of a process that could lead to formal charges and arrest — over Khan’s comments about the judiciary.

On Saturday he criticized a magistrate responsible for keeping a Pakistan Tehreek-e-insaf party official in police custody, after party leaders said he was tortured in detention.

In a statement, PTI said the latest accusations against him were “frivolous.”

“We have serious reservations on this politically motivated move which leads towards further instability in the country,” the party said.

Since being ousted by a vote of no confidence in April, Khan has held mass rallies across the country, warning state institutions including the military not to back the coalition government led by his long-time political rival Shehbaz Sharif.

He has been calling for an early general election — the next one must be held before October next year — but the government has shown no sign of wanting to go to the polls as it grapples with major economic problems.

Khan swept into power in 2018 thanks to an electorate weary of the dynastic politics of the country’s two major parties, with the former cricket star promising to sweep away decades of entrenched corruption and cronyism.

But under his rule the country’s economy went into free fall, and the International Monetary Fund suspended a $6 billion loan programme that the new government has only just gotten back on track.
Khan also lost the support of the military.

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