Police surrounded the home of former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, saying it was sheltering dozens of people who allegedly took part in violent protests against his recent detention.
Wednesday’s police deployment could anger Khan’s many supporters and raise concerns about more clashes between his supporters and the security forces. Last week Khan’s supporters attacked public property and military installations after he was dragged from a courtroom and detained.
The leader of the popular opposition was released over the weekend and returned home to an upscale neighborhood in Lahore, Pakistan’s second city and capital of the Punjab region.
On Wednesday, Khan took to Twitter after 200 police surrounded the house and a jail van appeared on the scene.
“Probably my last tweet before my next arrest,” Khan tweeted. “The police surrounded my house.
In a live video statement on Wednesday, Khan said his opponents were ready to start a fight between him and the army.
“I am afraid that this will cause a big backlash that will cause huge losses to our country,” he said. “If anyone thinks this strategy can get my party banned, it won’t happen.”
He called for a judicial commission headed by the chief justice to investigate the violence.
A wave of violence had engulfed the Pakistani capital and other urban areas following the dramatic attack on Khan arrest by court May 10. Khan’s supporters torched buildings and vehicles and attacked police and army personnel and installations. Ten people were killed in the clashes and more than 4,000 were arrested.
Shazia Marri, Pakistan’s federal minister for poverty, poverty alleviation and social security, told Al Jazeera that Khan’s video message was “inciting” his supporters to violence.
“The law was taken in their hands,” Marri said, referring to Khan’s supporters. “They were attacking buildings, they were burning ambulances.”
“It was a situation where the administration had to take some necessary steps just to make sure peace was somehow back on the streets,” she added.
Earlier on Wednesday, Amir Mir, a spokesman for the Punjab provincial government, said Khan had 24 hours to hand over 40 suspects who are believed to be hiding in his home or being raided by police. Mir told a press conference that so far 3,400 suspects have been arrested and more raids are planned.
Khan’s aide, Iftikhar Durrani, denied that the former prime minister harbored people suspected of involvement in the violence.
Pakistani authorities have said they will prosecute civilians involved in the recent anti-government protests in military courts. Army Chief General Asim Munir said in an address to troops on Wednesday that “the recently planned and orchestrated tragic incidents will never again be permitted at any cost.”
Rights group Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan said they were alarmed by the government’s plan.
The Supreme Court later ordered Khan’s release and criticized the manner in which he was arrested.
On Wednesday, a supreme court in Islamabad extended Khan’s bail and protection from arrest until the end of the month. However, his legal team fears he could be arrested in old cases.
Khan, 70, was removed from office by a vote of no confidence in parliament last year. He is currently facing more than 100 cases, mostly for incitement to violence, threats against officials and defying a ban on gatherings. He also faces a corruption case with his wife.
In a speech on Wednesday, Khan said he never encouraged his supporters to engage in violence. He claimed the attacks on military installations were orchestrated by unknown elements – part of an alleged plot to pit his party against the army, but did not provide evidence.
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