Pakistani police surround Imran Khan’s residence as the deadline for suspect handover approaches 2023

Pakistani police continued their siege surrounding Imran Khan’s residence as a 24-hour deadline to hand up criminals reportedly sheltering within approached on Thursday.

The siege and the authorities’ demand for the suspects, wanted in violent rallies over Khan’s recent arrest, have infuriated the former prime minister’s numerous supporters and raised worries of future security force conflicts.

After Khan’s detention last week, his fans vandalized public and military property. Ten people died in nationwide police battles. Khan’s release ended the violence.

Over the weekend, Pakistan’s second-largest city and Punjab capital, Lahore, released the popular opposition leader to his residence in a posh neighborhood. With him are dozens of fans and special guards. Police surrounded the apartment Wednesday and demanded 40 suspects.

Khan’s deadline is 2 p.m.

200 to 300 Khan loyalists, wielding sticks, watch his house 24/7, but most fled overnight. Residents must use an alternate route since police have blocked a vital road to the residence.

“Probably my last tweet before my next arrest,” the 70-year-old popular opposition leader tweeted on Wednesday after the siege began. “Police surrounded my house.”

Khan told his followers that cops may only search his residence with a warrant and “not barge in, creating chaos.”

Punjab provincial government spokesperson Amir Mir said police would shoot if assaulted. He told a press conference Thursday that at least 3,400 conflict suspects had been detained and that additional raids are planned.

Pakistani military courts will try civilians implicated in recent anti-government rallies.

Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, who oppose military trials of civilians, criticized the news. Pakistani military courts are held behind closed doors, denying civilians fundamental rights like hiring a counsel.

Khan lost a Parliamentary non-confidence vote last year. He claims the ousting was illegitimate and a Western plot.

He faces over 100 prosecution proceedings, mostly for instigating violence, threatening officials, and breaching rally bans. On Thursday, the National Accountability Bureau questioned him and his wife about a corruption case.

Khan may not appear for interrogation in Rawalpindi, the military city. Later in the day, he will speak to fans outside Lahore.

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