Pakistan Latest: Government to Search Khan’s Home, Avoid Arrest

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(Bloomberg) -- Authorities in Pakistan said they aim to search the home of Imran Khan for supporters accused of attacking military facilities and that they don’t intend to arrest him again, the latest step in the standoff between the former prime minister and the military.

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Police remain outside his home in Punjab province, stoking concerns of a repeat of the violent clashes between his supporters and security forces after his arrest last week on a corruption charge.

A provincial government minister claimed Khan was sheltering dozens of people in his compound, who authorities say were involved in the unrest and targeted state and military property. The ex-cricket star was given until 2 p.m. local time Thursday to hand over the suspects.

The military and the government said those involved in the attacks on military sites could be tried in military courts. This marks a heightening of tensions in the showdown between Khan, 70, and the army, and adds another layer of complexity to the country’s deepening political crisis and economic instability.

Key Developments

(All times Pakistan local)

Government Says It Seeks to Search Khan’s Home, Doesn’t Plan to Arrest Him (10:05 p.m.)

The Punjab government plans to search Khan’s residence in Lahore on Friday to find his supporters who officials accuse were involved in attacks on military facilities, Amir Mir, provincial information minister, told Geo TV.

A team led by the city commissioner will seek Khan’s consent for the search. Mir said. Police arrested at least eight workers leaving his residence Wednesday evening.

Loyalists Exit Khan’s Party as Clash With Army Deepens (3:55 p.m.)

Khan’s former climate minister Malik Amin Aslam has quit the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, he said at a press conference, the latest high profile member to leave the party citing the violence last week that targeted army property.

More than a dozen senior members have left over the past week according to their social media posts or news reports.

Provincial Government to Plan Strategy After Khan Defies Orders (3:18 p.m.)

The chief minister of Punjab province will consult his cabinet ministers and security officials later Thursday to chalk out a strategy after Khan defied its orders to hand over supporters the administration alleges were involved in attacks on military facilities, Amir Mir, Punjab information minister, said in a text message.

Khan Responds to Anti-Graft Agency Probe (2:20 p.m.)

A letter sent by Khan’s team to the National Accountability Bureau says he failed to answer a summons to appear at the agency on Thursday, as he was tied up trying to secure bail in various cases against him.

The PTI leader had been issued with a notice to provide documents and answer questions related to a corruption case.

Deadline Set By Punjab Official Expires (2:10 p.m.)

The 24-hour deadline has passed, with no immediate sign of movement from either side.

Meanwhile, Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party has posted on Twitter inviting all media to come to Zaman Park and gather outside his home.

Court Orders Release of Khan’s Close Aide (11:39 a.m.)

Islamabad High Court called the arrest of close Khan aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi illegal and ordered his release from police custody, his lawyer said.

The PTI party’s vice chairman was among the many top leaders who were rounded up by police after protests erupted over Khan’s arrest last week.

“He would be freed soon if he isn’t booked in any other case,” said Naeem Haider Panjutha, a member of the PTI’s legal team.

Khan to Skip Anti-Graft Agency Summons (8:23 a.m.)

The former prime minister will not appear in person at a hearing of the National Accountability Bureau scheduled for Thursday, despite receiving a call-up notice to cooperate with its investigation into a land graft case.

Khan had been asked to provide documents and answer questions related to the allegations, but a Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party spokesman said by message he won’t attend, declining to give any reason.

Khan Says Thousands Arrested in Crackdown (1:56 a.m.)

“This is the most unprecedented crackdown,” Khan told the UK’s Channel 4 News in an interview posted early Thursday morning.

“In 27 years of my party’s existence, we have never indulged in violent protests. 7,500 people have been arrested in my party. All the senior leadership has been arrested.”

Lahore Police Say No Current Arrest Plans (7:01 p.m.)

“There are no raid or arrest plans as of now. The deployment is normal and routine,” a Lahore police spokesman said by phone.

Khan’s residence already had a heavy police contingent present outside for security.

Imran Khan Says Police Have Surrounded His House (6:07 p.m.)

The former premier posts on Twitter that he fears imminent arrest after police surrounded his Zaman Park home in Lahore.

Khan denies allegations he is sheltering dozens of people involved in that week’s violence. Addressing party supporters shortly after his tweet, he said there is still time for the government to talk to him and resolve matters.

What Bloomberg Economics Says...

Financial markets are pricing in a high probability that Pakistan will default on its debt, but we think it could avoid this fate. The source of its trouble is a large fiscal deficit, combined with high interest rates. We estimate the government has enough funding to get by until the end of June. Beyond that, an extension of the current deal with the IMF is necessary to fill the financing hole. The government has done enough to meet the IMF conditions — raising taxes, reducing subsidies, hiking interest rates, and securing some foreign funding from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

—Ankur Shukla, economist

For the full note, click here

Punjab Minister Sets Deadline for Possible Raid (2:03 p.m.)

Khan has been given a 24-hour deadline to hand over supporters at his residence or face consequences, according to Punjab provincial government minister Amir Mir.

Mir said in a televised press conference the government had information that 30 to 40 people involved in attacks on military facilities last week were at Khan’s house.

Court Extends Order Preventing Khan’s Arrest, Report Says (1:00 p.m.)

The Islamabad High Court extended its order protecting Khan from arrest until May 31, according to Dawn News.

This relates to cases filed against him after May 9. Last Friday, the court granted Khan two weeks bail in relation to a land corruption case. It’s among dozens of cases he currently faces. He denies all the charges, saying they are politically motivated.

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