PTI supporters shout slogans as they guard outside Imran Khan's residence in Islamabad on Monday. AFP
The political tension stems from comments the former cricket star is accused of making in a speech, at a rally of his supporters televised live on Saturday night, against the police chief and a judge in response to the arrest of one of Imran's aides.
"They will have to run over us before they can reach Imran," supporter Sher Jahan Khan said outside Imran's hilltop home (Banigala) overlooking the capital, Islamabad.
Imran was prime minister from 2018 until April this year when he was forced to step down after losing a confidence vote in parliament.
Since then, he has been campaigning for a new election but Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has rejected that demand.
Supporters of Imran Khan gather as they guard outside his Banigala residence in Islamabad. AFP
Dozens of supporters gathered outside his home from early on Monday shouting slogans against the government and the police. Islamabad police declined to confirm that they intended to arrest Imran but Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah has said he could be arrested.
Imran was not available for comment but Fawad Chaudhry, a spokesman for his political party, dismissed the accusations against Imran as politically motivated, telling reporters they were being used to block ̛mran from leading anti-government rallies.
Some supports of Imran warned of trouble if police took action. "If Imran Khan is arrested ... we will take over Islamabad with people's power," a former minister in Imran's cabinet, Ali Amin Gandapur, said in a post on Twitter.
IMRAN'S GETS PROTECTIVE BAIL
The use of anti-terrorism laws as the basis of cases against political leaders is not uncommon in Pakistan, where Imran's government also used them against opponents and critics.
PTI supporters shout slogans as they guard outside the Imran's residence in Islamabad. AFP
Later on Monday, a court defused the immediate tension by granting Imran three days of pre-arrest bail, Imran's lawyer, Babar Awan, told reporters. The supporters began to disperse upon hearing that.
Police filed charges against Imran on Saturday over what they said was a threat against officials in the speech in which he spoke about the alleged torture by police of one of his aides, who faces sedition charges for inciting mutiny in the military.
"We will not spare you," Imran said in the speech, in which he named the police chief and the judge involved in the case against his aide. Police cited that comment in a report seen by Reuters.
"The purpose of the speech was to spread terror amongst the police and the judiciary and prevent them from doing their duty," police said in the report.
“In the by-elections of 9 National Assembly constituencies to be held on Sept.25, Imran himself will contest from all the seats,” the PTI announced on its official Twitter handle.
The apex court ruled that President Dr Arif Alvi's decision to dissolve the National Assembly was "illegal" and restored Imran Khan as well as his cabinet.
Imran singled out Murad Saeed for praise as his ministry came out on top despite his young age. He hailed the initiative as a "great opportunity" since every ministry would get to know how much the others worked. "Our ministries will get incentives to work hard, the more we publicise this.”
Imran vowed to fight any move to unseat him. "Whatever they do, I'm ready for that," he told a gathering in Islamabad. Opposition leaders say Imran has lost public support as he struggles with high inflation, a rising current account deficit and depleting foreign reserves.
The mayor of Belgorod, Valentin Demidov, told AFP that around 5,000 people who fled border villages have registered with city authorities, with several hundred in temporary housing.
A default would have likely triggered market panic, huge job losses and a recession, with global implications.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid also dispatched a message of condolence to Indian President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the victims of the train collision