Pakistani police and supporters of Imran Khan fought pitched battles outside the former prime minister's home in Lahore on Tuesday, wounding several on both sides, ahead of his expected arrest, a government spokesman and witnesses said.
Police hit Khan supporters in baton charges and lobbed tear gas canisters, some of which landed on the lawns of Khan's house, according to video images released by his party.
Local Geo TV showed a helicopter hovering over the house, adding that internet connection had been cut in the area.
"We will arrest Imran Khan today and present him in court," said Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah at a public rally telecast live on local TV channels.
A lower trial court in the capital Islamabad had issued the arrest warrant for Khan for unlawfully selling state gifts while in power from 2018 to 2022, his aide Fawad Chaudhry told Reuters.
Khan aide Shah Mehmood Qureshi told reporters the former prime minister had secured "protective bail" from a court.
"Our understanding is that the police can't arrest Imran Khan," he said.
Khan has been demanding a snap election in protest rallies across the country since his ouster from office in a parliamentary vote early last year. That demand was rejected by his successor, Shehbaz Sharif, who has said the vote would be held as scheduled later this year.
Khan was shot and wounded in one of these rallies.
The law will take its course
Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) workers started the violence, which injured several police officials, Mir said, adding, "If Imran Khan ensures his presence in the court, it will be good, otherwise the law will take its course."
Khan called on his supporters to stand up for the supremacy of law and fight for true independence.
"Police have come to arrest and send me to jail," he said in a video-recorded statement posted on Twitter. "If something happens to me, or sent to jail, or they kill me, you've to prove that this nation will continue to struggle even without Imran Khan."
Mir said the government has called out paramilitary forces to control the situation.
Several of Khan's supporters were injured when the police resorted to teargas shelling, witnesses said.