In a series of tweets on Sunday, the police said Khan was “avoiding” arrest after officers arrived at his home in Lahore, adding that a police superintendent had “gone to the room” but the 70-year-old was not there.
On Tuesday, an Islamabad sessions court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant for the former PM for avoiding hearings in connection with the illegal purchase and sale of gifts received from foreign dignitaries when he was prime minister. Khan has denied the charges.
Khan was removed from power in April last year after he lost a parliamentary vote of confidence and is facing dozens of cases against him, ranging from “terrorism” to corruption.
On Sunday, police officials, who had travelled from the capital Islamabad, were seen outside the entrance of Khan’s Zaman Park residence in the eastern city of Lahore.
Khan’s supporters and members of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) party gathered in their hundreds to protest against the arrest of their party head.
Islamabad Police Inspector General Akbar Nasir Khan told Geo News TV channel that the team went to Lahore to arrest Khan and not just to serve the warrant.
Nasir added that according to the law, the first step of a non-bailable arrest warrant was to serve notice to the accused and make the arrest immediately.
During a public event on Sunday, interior minister Rana Sanaullah stated the police came to serve the warrant and will subsequently update the court.
Speaking to journalists outside Khan’s home, PTI party leader and former information minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed that the police had come to execute the warrant.
“Police says Imran Khan is avoiding arrest. However, the police’s insistence to arrest Khan is illegal,” he said, adding, “They want Imran Khan to go to court where security is lax and there’s a risk to his life.”
PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said discussions with the party’s legal team will take place before deciding on any future course of action later on Sunday.
“We are a political party, we will react politically. We will strategise. Imran Khan’s life is at risk. He has already suffered an attack, and we fear there’s another attack planned. We have to protect him from it,” Qureshi told reporters, adding, “Imran Khan has protective bail. The government is trying to create a law-and-order situation.”
In November last year, the 70-year-old former national cricket captain was shot in the leg when his anti-government protest convoy came under attack in the city of Wazirabad.
One of Khan’s supporters died after sustaining bullet wounds while more than a dozen people were injured.