Imran Khan accused of 'blatant lies' by Pakistan minister as police clash again with supporters
Pakistan's Information Minister has accused Imran Khan of "uttering blatant lies" and denied the attempts to arrest him are politically motivated.
In an exclusive interview with Sky News, Marriyum Aurangzeb insisted that "the government has nothing to do with the arrest. The arrest has nothing to do with the delay in the elections".
The police, she declared, were simply "complying with the order of the court to arrest him in corruption cases".
It follows a tense stand-off between police and Mr Khan's supporters outside his residence in the eastern city of Lahore.
Supporters of the former prime minister threw bricks at police who fought back with tear gas and rubber bullets for a second day after officers tried to arrest the ousted leader.
Mr Khan is accused of misusing state gifts and faces a vast number of corruption cases. He denies any wrongdoing.
Today, he insisted he was ready to travel to Islamabad on 18 March to appear in court, but that was not initially accepted by the authorities.
Mrs Aurangzeb said it was critical that he answers to the court.
"He needs to be arrested as court has ordered and he has to comply with the court orders," she said.
"The police are there to arrest him. If he has anything to say in his defence, he has to say it in front of the court."
The Information Minister rejected claims the police had injured Mr Khan's supporters and instead stated that 65 police officers had been hurt as a result of the clashes.
She also dismissed Mr Khan's claim that his security was at risk - he has consistently argued that appearing in court could compromise his safety following an assassination attempt.
"The guy says he has security threats and…in the same breath, Mr Khan says he's ready to hold political rallies. He's out there," Mrs Aurangzeb said.
"The moment the court asks him to be there for his corruption cases, he says I have a security threat.
"So you know he has to stick to one thing and then when he has security threats, at the same time he's inciting violence and he's putting women and children in front of the police force who are there just to arrest him."
Read more on Sky News:
Operation to arrest Khan halted after violence
As this legal battle between Mr Khan and the state rages, the country faces political and economic paralysis.
This stalemate is only adding to that mess and creating a tinder box moment in an already febrile atmosphere.