Pakistan Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah on Monday claimed that former prime minister Imran Khan scaled the wall of his residence in Lahore and fled to his neighbour's house to evade arrest in the Toshakhana case a day earlier.
Sanaullah made these comments after Islamabad Police on Sunday reached Lahore to arrest Khan, but returned after assurance from his legal team that he will appear before the court on March 7.
Khan, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief has been in the crosshairs for buying gifts, including an expensive Graff wristwatch he had received as the premier at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.
"Yesterday, the police team that went to arrest Khan faced a lot of drama. There are rumours that he [Khan] jumped into his neighbours' house [to hide]. After a while, he surfaced from somewhere and delivered a huge speech," Geo TV quoted Sanaullah as saying.
The minister said if the police wanted to arrest the former prime minister, this wasn't an appropriate strategy.
"The police went there to inform him about the court's orders. But he is a shameless person," he said.
Sanaullah accused Khan of misusing his authority when it came to Toshakhana gifts, the report said.
"If the court acquits Imran Khan, we will accept it," Sanaullah said, adding that the federal government has no desire in arresting him, but he should ensure his appearance before the courts, the Geo TV report added.
An Islamabad-based district court issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Khan last week for his repeated failure to appear before the court.
The court on Monday refused to withdraw the non-bailable arrest warrant after the PTI party chief had applied.
Additional Sessions Judge Zafar Iqbal, rejecting the plea, announced the verdict after hearing the arguments on the former premier’s application.
“The accused was in a position to appear in this court on February 28 after his appearances in different honourable courts but he wilfully avoided appearing in this court,” the judge said in his order, adding that a warrant remains enforced until it is cancelled by the court which issued it or it is executed as per law.
The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician, who has been recovering from a gunshot injury from an assassination attempt in Wazirabad last year, has thrice skipped indictment hearings in the case.
Khan was granted interim bail by a special court in Islamabad after being shot during the assassination attempt.
He has since received extensions on his bail due to medical reasons.
Khan was ousted from power in April after losing a no-confidence vote in his leadership, which he alleged was part of a US-led conspiracy targeting him because of his independent foreign policy decisions on Russia, China, and Afghanistan.
The PTI chief, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament.