Imran Khan Is In A Standoff With Police Who Have Surrounded His House

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan said Thursday that his prior arrest (and release after mass protests and unrest) is part of a broader government crackdown against his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) in order to keep him out of power and prevent him from contesting the upcoming general election.

"All the political parties and the establishment want me removed from the electoral field in an election year," he told supporters while pointing out that police starting the day prior surrounded his house and blocked roads.

On Wednesday he had said his arrest was "imminent" - but it appears police have since backed off the "siege" of his house following the threat of clashes with his many supporters that also showed up to the neighborhood.

Image: News18

Police claimed his house was sheltering fugitives who engaged in violent protests last week in the wake of his controversial arrest on on a range of corruption charges.

This week Pakistan's military promised swift justice for those who spread mayhem, vandalism and violence against the army and police:

Rioters and their backers who attacked Pakistan’s state assets and military installations during protests that erupted after the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan will be tried under army laws, the country’s civilian and military leaders have said.

The decision was announced on Tuesday after a meeting of the National Security Committee chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.

Sharif's office followed with a statement: "The meeting endorsed to bring the miscreants, the planners who incited for violence and their facilitators to dock by trying them under constitutional provisions of concerned laws, including Pakistan Army Act and Official Secrets Act."

"Whoever are the planners and whoever incited these miscreants … they don’t deserve any leniency," Sharif said. Khan has all along blamed Pakistan Army chief Asim Munir for his arrest and conspiring to keep him out of power.

At least eight people were killed (some sources say more) and many hundreds wounded in the pro-Khan demonstrations and riots, including some among the army and security services, who were called to restore order in Islamabad. Buildings, including a national radio broadcast center, were burned to the ground, and army bases were also breached in some cases. But the military is now vowing "no more"...

General Asim Munir has said that "planned and orchestrated tragic incidents" of May 9, the day military installations were attacked, will never be allowed again at any cost, ARY News reported.

The army chief during his visit to Sialkot Garrison said: "No one will be allowed to disrespect our martyrs and their monuments. They are a source of inspiration and pride for the rank and file of the Armed Forces, Law Enforcement Agencies, Government officials and the people of Pakistan."

Meanwhile, here's where things stand Thursday regarding the showdown outside Khan's residence, according to regional media:

Pakistani police kept up their siege around the home of Imran Khan as a 24-hour deadline given to the former PM to hand over suspects ‘sheltered inside’ expired on Thursday afternoon. The siege and the authorities’ demand for the suspects, wanted in violent protests over Khan’s recent detention, has angered the former prime minister’s supporters and is raising concerns about more clashes between them and the security forces.

Imran Khan was freed from custody over the weekend and returned to his home in an upscale district of Lahore. Dozens of his supporters have been staying there with him, along with private guards. Police, who on Wednesday surrounded the residence, say they want 40 suspects handed over. The ultimatum for Khan ends at 2 p.m. local time.

If Khan is arrested again, and this remains a likely scenario, the country will ignite again - given tensions continue to be at boiling point over Khan's fate, and anti-government unrest has continued in some locations.

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