Pakistan ex-PM Imran Khan refuses police search

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan. File photo.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday refused police permission to search his Lahore home for suspects involved in this month’s attacks on state and army buildings and laid out his own terms for any such operation.

Khan has denied sheltering anyone involved in the violence and said a search could only be conducted by a panel set up by a high court, with members from both the government and his party – and on the condition that a female officer accompanies them.

Khan told reporters the government team first said that there were ‘terrorists’ inside his house, but then they said that there were ‘wanted’ men.

“If anyone from my Party is involved, we have all — myself and my party leaders — condemned it repeatedly,” Khan said.

“If they can give us any proof, if they can show us that our party members were involved, we will help in arresting them,” he added.

He said he feared police could plant weapons in his home if unsupervised.

The standoff is the latest in a tussle between the 70-year old former cricket star and the powerful military that has deepened political instability in the South Asian nation of 220 million.

Pakistan also faces its worst economic crisis in decades, with critical IMF funding needed to avert a balance of payment crisis delayed for months.

Khan’s home is in the Zaman Park neighbourhood of Lahore and was the site of pitched battles in March between his supporters and police who had tried to arrest Khan for not showing up in court.

Analysts said a search of Khan’s house could trigger further unrest.