Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan evades arrest as he is banned from local TV channels

PTI politician has drawn thousands of people to his rallies, where he has called for snap elections

Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan has faced several legal challenges since being ousted last year. Reuters
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Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan has vowed to continue fighting “our war for freedom” after police attempted to arrest him.

Police went to Mr Khan's home in Lahore on Sunday to arrest him on charges of failing to appear in court last week but said they did not immediately find him at the residence.

A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to appear in court over accusations that he sold state gifts as prime minister.

An Islamabad court on Monday dismissed Mr Khan's appeal to suspend the warrant, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported.

Mr Khan has faced a spate of legal challenges since being ousted in a no-confidence vote last year.

He was shot and wounded in November in what his supporters called an attempted assassination.

His nationwide rallies to demand snap elections have attracted thousands of people.

Mr Khan has attended several court hearings in recent weeks while supporters have gathered to hold demonstrations in his defence.

Members of his Tehreek-e-Insaf party, better known as PTI, have said attempts to arrest Mr Khan would lead to nationwide protests.

Khan: I bow 'only to God'

“Attempting to arrest Imran Khan on fake and flimsy cases will be extremely destabilising in a system that is already under stress,” PTI politician Hammad Azhar told Bloomberg, while other officials from the party said there was no official arrest warrant.

Speaking to supporters in front of his home later on Sunday, Mr Khan said he would bow “only to God” and described the situation as a “real war for freedom”.

He also hit out at his successor Shehbaz Sharif, who he has accused of being complicit, along with other senior officials, in the November attack.

His supporters have camped outside his home in recent months to defend the former leader from arrest.

Also on Sunday, Pakistan's media authority banned TV channels from airing live or pre-recorded footage of Mr Khan's speeches, claiming the former prime minister had spoken against state institutions.

The Electronic Media Regulatory Authority accused him of “spreading hate speech” that could “disturb public peace”.

Any channels found to be in breach of the rules will have their licences suspended, it said.

Mr Khan is now expected to appear in court on March 7.

Updated: March 06, 2023, 11:13 AM