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Several wounded in Pakistan clashes as police attempt to detain ex-PM Khan

A photo by Pakistani media shows clashes between police and supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in the eastern city of Lahore on March 14, 2023.

Several people have been wounded as Pakistani police and supporters of Imran Khan fought pitched battles outside the former prime minister's home in the eastern city of Lahore.

The clashes erupted as hundreds of the members of opposition leader Khan's Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party gathered outside Khan's Zaman Park house in an upscale area of the city on Tuesday.

Police scuffled with and fired tear gas and water cannons at the PTI workers, who pelted stones at them.

Police hit Khan's supporters in baton charges and lobbed tear gas canisters, some of which landed on the lawns of Khan's house, according to video images released by his party.

Television images showed police approaching Khan's residence accompanied by an armored vehicle. Local Geo TV showed a helicopter hovering over the house, adding that internet connection had been cut in the area.

Islamabad police spokesperson Taqi Jawad said that a police team reached Khan's residence on late Tuesday afternoon with arrest warrants.

Syed Shehzad Nadeem Bukhari, a senior officer in the Islamabad police department, said the police intended to arrest Khan. "We are here to fulfill the warrant and to arrest Imran Khan."

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said, "We will arrest Imran Khan today and present him in court."

This is to ensure Khan appears in court on March 18 to face charges of failing to disclose assets related to the sale of state gifts that he received when he was in power. A lower trial court in Islamabad had issued the arrest warrant for Khan for unlawfully selling state gifts while in power from 2018 to 2022.

Critics say Pakistan's courts are often used to tie up lawmakers in long-winded proceedings rights monitors have criticized for stifling political opposition.

Khan has attempted to disrupt Pakistan politics since he was forced out of office in a no-confidence vote in April 2022. Since then, he has been facing dozens of cases against him. He has been pushing for early polls due no later than October by calling for protests, pulling out of parliament and dissolving the two provincial assemblies his party controls.

Pakistan is in dire economic straits with runaway inflation, scant foreign exchange reserves, and stalling bailout talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

To pull the nation of more than 220 million out of its spiral, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is battling to revive the next tranche of a $6.5-billion loan deal sketched with the IMF in 2019.

Khan was voted into power in 2018 on the promise of fighting corruption, but his mishandling of the economy did not help his case. Despite being ousted from power, Khan's popularity has gone up.

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