Pakistani police are trying to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan

LAHORE: Police in Pakistan said officers tried on Sunday to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is struggling with several legal cases while pushing the government to hold early elections.

Officials from the capital, Islamabad, reached Khan’s home in Lahore, which was surrounded by hundreds of his supporters, but were unable to locate him.

“A team from Islamabad Police has arrived in Lahore to arrest Imran Khan to comply with court orders,” Islamabad Police said in a tweet.

“Imran Khan is reluctant to surrender – the Superintendent of Police had walked into the room but Imran Khan was not there.”

The arrest warrant was issued after Khan failed to appear in court on February 28 in a corruption case.

Khan is accused of failing to declare gifts received during his tenure or the profit derived from them.

Government officials must declare all gifts, but may hold them below a certain value.

Deputy leader of Khan’s Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf party, Shah Mehmood Qureshi, told reporters in Lahore: “We have received the communication from the Islamabad police – the communication does not include an arrest warrant.”

“We will consult our lawyers and follow the legal process.”

Pakistan’s courts are often used to embroil lawmakers in lengthy and drawn-out trials that human rights observers have criticized for stifling political opposition.

Khan, who was shot dead during a rally last year, has sought to disrupt politics in the South Asian nation since he was ousted from office by a no-confidence vote in April.

He has been pushing for early elections, due no later than October, by holding protests, withdrawing from parliament and dissolving the two provincial parliaments controlled by his party to force the government to act.

The nation of more than 220 million people is in dire straits, with runaway inflation, low foreign exchange reserves and stalled IMF bailout talks.

To pull the country out of its spiral, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is struggling to revive the next tranche of a $6.5 billion loan deal drafted in 2019 with the International Monetary Fund. – AFP Pakistani police are trying to arrest former Prime Minister Imran Khan

Russell Falcon

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