Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan is set to appear in court Saturday to face charges of unlawfully selling state gifts he received during his four years in office.
Khan’s decision to finally make a court appearance came after Pakistan’s high court in Islamabad canceled an arrest warrant it issued after Khan failed to appear for several recent court dates.
Clashes between Khan’s supporters and security forces erupted earlier this week outside his residence in Lahore, the capital of Punjab, the most populous Pakistani province, when police attempted to arrest him for failing to make his court dates.
The cricket hero turned politician was ousted from office last April by a parliamentary no-confidence vote. He has since been slapped with dozens of legal challenges across Pakistan — ranging from sedition and terrorism to corruption charges — his lawyers told a provincial court in Lahore on Friday.
Khan denies all the allegations, saying his successor, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, is behind the cases to prevent him from contesting elections and staging a comeback to power. He also has accused the government of unleashing a crackdown on leaders and workers of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party to deter them from participating in elections scheduled for later this year.
The government rejects the charges, saying it has nothing to do with the opposition leader’s legal challenges nor is it targeting the opposition party.
The political turmoil comes as Pakistan struggles with a deepening economic crisis. The Sharif administration’s attempts to convince the International Monetary Fund to resume critical lending to the cash-strapped country have failed so far because of a lack of key reforms.