Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Wednesday that police had surrounded his house and that he expected to be rearrested soon, after the government warned him to hand over supporters who it blamed for attacks on the army.
Khan was arrested by the army on May 9 on graft allegations, which he denies, triggering a wave of violence that has deepened political instability in the South Asian nation of 220 million.
The country’s Supreme Court ordered Khan’s release on bail last Friday. But on Wednesday the government accused him of sheltering aides and supporters wanted over the attacks following his arrest, and warned he had 24 hours to hand them over or face a police operation.
Khan said his re-arrest was imminent. Hours earlier, Islamabad’s High Court had granted him a bail extension until May 31, his lawyer Faisal Chaudhry said.
“Probably my last tweet before my next arrest,” Khan tweeted on Wednesday, adding that police had surrounded his house in Lahore.
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In a live video statement, he said his opponents were out to trigger a fight between him and the army.
“I’m afraid that this will bring a big backlash that will cause huge loss to our country,” he said. “... If someone thinks that this strategy can win a ban on my party, it is not going to happen.” He demanded a judicial commission headed by the chief justice to probe the violence.
Punjab province’s information minister Amir Mir said intelligence and law enforcement agencies had identified that some 30 to 40 people accused of attacking military installations were hiding at Khan’s home.
“We’re giving an ultimatum that these terrorists should be turned over to the police, or else there will be action,” Mir told a press conference. He said Khan had 24 hours to surrender the suspects, and that a police operation would be launched if he did not comply.
The military had already announced that those who attacked its installations would be tried under army laws, calling the May 9 attacks “pre-planned” and ordered by leaders of Khan’s party, which he and his party deny.