Supporters of former prime minister Imran Khan gather outside Khan’s house to prevent riot police officers from arresting him, in Lahore on March 14, 2023. — AFP

‘Chaos outside Imran Khan’s home’: How international media covered the Zaman Park clashes

The coverage painted the PTI chief facing a rocky path — albeit accompanied by considerable support from his party workers.
Published March 15, 2023

As the PTI said its party chief Imran Khan’s Zaman Park residence in Lahore was “under extreme attack” by law enforcement agencies, who were there since Tuesday to arrest him, the ongoing stalemate between the forces and party supporters not only disrupted Pakistan’s political landscape but also made waves across international media.

With headlines highlighting the violence outside Imran’s residence and Imran’s half-hearted will to give in to the police demand, the coverage painted the PTI chief facing a rocky path — albeit accompanied by considerable support from his party workers.

US media

CNN‘s live story currently reads: “Chaos outside Imran Khan’s home as supporters clash with police attempting to arrest former Pakistani leader“

Screengrab of <em>CNN</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of CNN’s headline.

It included Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb’s refutation of government involvement in the arrest: “In a statement to CNN, Pakistan’s information minister denied any political involvement in the case.”

The media organisation also stated Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari’s remarks from an interview that aired on Tuesday: “Speaking to Comedy Central‘s The Daily Show, Zardari said Khan had repeatedly refused to appear in court and fight his case, often reasoning that he’s ‘too important’ to face trial.”

“What we’ve seen over the past couple of weeks have been a complete mockery of the judicial system in Pakistan, of rule of law, of the constitution in Pakistan — where had he gone to court, there was probably no reason he had to face imminent arrest,” CNN reported Bilawal as saying.

Bloomberg’s headline stated: “Imran Khan supporters battle Pakistan police out to arrest him”

Screengrab of <em>Bloomberg</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of Bloomberg’s headline.

“Pakistani police clashed with Imran Khan supporters outside the former premier’s home as security officials tried to arrest him for the second time, deepening a political crisis that’s overshadowing the nation’s economic turmoil,” it said.

A later headline covered Wednesday’s legal developments, stating: “Pakistan court calls off Imran Khan arrest for the night”

Screengrab of <em>Bloomberg</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of Bloomberg’s headline.

The report said the Lahore High Court’s suspension of the police operation was the “latest twist in a political saga that’s overshadowing the country’s economic turmoil”.

“The police will comply with the court’s orders and suspend their operations until 10am Thursday, Islamabad police spokesman Taqi Jawad said. However, the Islamabad High Court upheld the arrest warrant against Khan, so the former leader’s reprieve will likely be brief,” it said.

UK media

BBC‘s story — “Imran Khan: Pakistan’s former PM decries arrest attempt amid violence“ — also included Aurangzeb’s statement: “She claimed that Mr Khan was using his party workers, women and children as human shields to evade arrest and stoke unrest.”

Screengrab of <em>BBC</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of BBC’s headline.

Describing yesterday’s clashes, it said: “There was a tense situation outside his compound in the city of Lahore on Tuesday as police tried to force their way in. Officers fired tear gas shells to disperse supporters of Mr Khan, who threw stones and bricks.”

Sky News was another media organisation to interview Imran via a video call as police outside his home faced PTI supporters guarding him.

Screengrab of <em>Sky News</em>’ headline.
Screengrab of Sky News’ headline.

It stated: “Mr Khan, 70, has ignored a string of warrants for multiple alleged crimes including terrorism charges, concealing his assets, and illegally selling state gifts he received during his term as premier.”

“When questioned about the episodes of violence, Mr Khan told Sky News that if he is arrested he has told his supporters that ‘violence doesn’t suit us.”

The Telegraph’s headline read: “Police vow to arrest Imran Khan today as they clash with thousands of his supporters”

Screengrab of <em>The Telegraph</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of The Telegraph’s headline.

It narrated his supporters fighting “pitched battles with security forces” and the “police wielding batons [that] tried to storm through the crowd”.

Its coverage included Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah’s vow to arrest Imran: “‘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.”

The Telegraph also mentioned President Arif Alvi’s statement that the “attempted raid reflected poorly on the current government”.

“Shireen Mazari, Mr Khan’s former information minister, posted a video of tear gas filtering through his garden and attacked ‘total fascism by a bloodthirsty fascist government’,” it stated.

Al Jazeera

Meanwhile, Qatar-based Al Jazeera closely followed the happenings with a live blog that is now closed: “Pakistan updates: Imran Khan says arrest aims at election removal”

Screengrab of <em>Al Jazeera</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of Al Jazeera’s headline.

In the live blog’s summary, it highlighted: “They (police) said he would be arrested by the end of Tuesday but the day passed without his arrest.”

The outlet also interviewed the former premier via a phone call on Tuesday as chaos erupted outside his residence.

Screengrab of <em>Al Jazeera</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of Al Jazeera’s headline.

The interview — “condensed and edited for clarity” — quoted Imran saying, “According to the law, I have protected bail until the 18th [of March]. So four days earlier, the police have arrived with an arrest warrant, which is totally illegal.

“There are 80 cases against me and in the last few months, every other day there is a fresh case against me. There is a case of murder, there is a case of sedition, there is a case of blasphemy, a case of terrorism,” he told Al Jazeera.

Al Jazeera‘s headline for today’s developments stated: “Pakistan court orders halting of operation to arrest Imran Khan”

Screengrab of <em>Al Jazeera</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of Al Jazeera’s headline.

On the withdrawal of security forces from Zaman Park, it said: “Provincial authorities said the withdrawal was made to facilitate a cricket match scheduled to be played in Lahore later on Wednesday.

“The situation remained calm but tense outside Khan’s residence, as PTI supporters celebrated being able to prevent Khan’s arrest for a second straight day.”

Turkish media

One headline by Anadolu Agency read: “Pakistani police besiege Khan’s residence in attempt to arrest ex-premier”

Screengrab of <em>Anadolu Agency</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of Anadolu Agency’s headline.

Describing yesterday’s clashes, it said: “Hundreds of riot police, backed by water cannons and armoured personnel carriers, were seen proceeding towards the former premier’s heavily fortified residence in a high-end Lahore neighbourhood as stick-wielding supporters pelted them with stones.

“The police, attired in riot gear and holding shields, used water cannons to ward off the supporters from Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, who had taken control of the main entrance to their party leader’s residence,” it added.

A separate story by Anadolu Agency highlighted the public’s reaction in Imran’s support: “Protests erupt across Pakistan against attempted arrest of former premier”

Screengrab of <em>Anadolu Agency</em>’s headline.
Screengrab of Anadolu Agency’s headline.

Citing local media outlets, it stated: “[…] protesters blocked roads and staged sit-ins in Islamabad, the commercial capital Karachi and the garrison city of Rawalpindi as well as in other cities across the country including Lahore, Peshawar, Mardan, Charsadda and Faisalabad”.

Quoting Special Assistant to Prime Minister Ataullah Tarar, it said: “Meanwhile, Ata Tarar, an special assistant to the prime minister, accused Khan and his supporters of ‘degrading’ the judiciary and resorting to violence.”

TRT World sourced its story from Reuters, giving a brief account of yesterday’s events.

Screengrab from <em>TRT World</em>.
Screengrab from TRT World.

Indian media

The Indian Express has been running a live blog as well since yesterday, providing a detailed look into the ongoing clashes.

Screengrab of <em>The India Express</em>’ headline
Screengrab of The India Express’ headline

Recounting the clashes, it said: “Photos of empty gun cartridges, allegedly fired by the police, are being shared on social media. Protests have spread across major cities in Pakistan, including Islamabad, Peshawar, Karachi, and Rawalpindi, after Khan urged his supporters to continue the fight against the government.”‘s headline read: “Clashes between Pakistan Police and Imran Khan’s supporters as officers try to arrest him“

Screengrab of <em></em>’s headline
Screengrab of’s headline

Citing Dawn, it stated: “The Islamabad Police on Tuesday clashed with supporters of Imran Khan outside his home in Lahore as officers arrived to arrest the former Pakistan prime minister.”

“The police fired tear gas and water canon at Khan’s house after his supporters threw rocks and bricks at the officers,” it added.

This story mentions live blogs and stories, whose headlines may have been updated.