Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan arrested, sparking protests

Pakistan’s ex-PM Imran Khan arrested, sparking protests

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested Tuesday as he appeared in court docket to face fees in a number of graft instances, a dramatic escalation of political tensions within the nation that sparked demonstrations by his supporters in not less than three cities.

Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022 however stays the main opposition determine, was dragged from the Islamabad Excessive Court docket by safety brokers from the Nationwide Accountability Bureau, stated Fawad Chaudhry, a senior official together with his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf social gathering. Khan was shoved into an armored automotive and whisked away.

Chaudhry denounced the arrest of the 71-year-old former cricket star as “an abduction.” Pakistan’s unbiased GEO TV broadcast video of Khan being hauled away.

Afterward, a scuffle broke out between Khan’s supporters and police exterior the court docket. A few of Khan’s attorneys and supporters had been injured within the melee, as had been a number of police, Chaudhry stated. Khan’s social gathering complained to the court docket, which requested a police report explaining the costs for Khan’s arrest.

Khan was taken to the garrison metropolis of Rawalpindi, close to Islamabad, for questioning on the places of work of the Nationwide Accountability Bureau, in line with police and authorities officers. He additionally was to bear a routine medical checkup, police stated.

Khan had arrived on the Islamabad Excessive Court docket from close by Lahore, the place he lives, to face fees within the graft instances.

He has denounced the instances towards him, which embody terrorism fees, as a politically motivated plot by his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, saying his ouster was unlawful and a Western conspiracy. Khan has campaigned towards Sharif and demanded early elections.

Tuesday’s arrest was based mostly on a a brand new warrant from the Nationwide Accountability Bureau obtained final week in a separate graft case for which Khan had not obtained bail, making him susceptible to arrest. He’s scheduled to seem earlier than an anti-graft tribunal on Wednesday, officers stated.

“Imran Khan has been arrested as a result of he was being sought in a graft case,” Inside Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan informed a information convention. He alleged Pakistan’s treasury had misplaced hundreds of thousands of {dollars} whereas Khan was in workplace on account of unlawful purchases of lands from a enterprise tycoon.

Because the information of the arrest unfold, about 4,000 of Khan’s supporters stormed the official residence of the highest regional commander in Lahore, smashing home windows and doorways, damaging furnishings and staging a sit-in as troops there retreated to keep away from violence. The protesters additionally burned police automobiles and blocked key roads..

Protesters additionally smashed the primary gate of the military’s headquarters within the garrison metropolis of Rawalpindi, the place troops exercised restraint. A whole bunch of demonstrators shouted pro-Khan slogans as they moved towards the sprawling constructing.

Within the port metropolis of Karachi, police swung batons and fired tear fuel to disperse lots of of Khan supporters who had gathered on a key highway.

Raoof Hasan, one other chief from Khan’s social gathering, informed Al Jazeera English tv that the arrest is “blatant interference within the judicial affairs by the powers-that-be.” Hasan added that Khan “was just about kidnapped from the court docket of legislation.”

Khan’s arrest got here hours after he issued a video message earlier than heading to Islamabad, saying he was “mentally ready” for arrest there.

Khan was wounded by a gunman at a rally in November, an assault that killed considered one of his supporters and wounded 13. He has insisted, with out providing any proof, that there’s a plot to assassinate him, alleging that Pakistan’s spy company was behind the conspiracy. The gunman was instantly arrested and police later launched a video of him in custody, allegedly saying he had acted alone.

In a strongly worded assertion Monday, the navy accused Khan of “fabricated and malicious allegations” of its involvement within the November capturing, saying they’re “extraordinarily unlucky, deplorable and unacceptable.”

The navy has straight dominated Pakistan for greater than half of the 75 years for the reason that nation gained independence from British colonial rule, and wields appreciable energy over civilian governments.

Sharif, whose authorities faces spiraling financial woes and is struggling to get better from final 12 months’s devastating floods that killed lots of and triggered $30 billion in harm, slammed Khan for assailing the navy.

“Let this be abundantly clear that you just, as former prime minister, at present on trial for corruption, are claiming legitimacy to overturn the authorized and political system,” Sharif tweeted after Khan’s arrest.

Khan is the seventh former prime minister to be arrested in Pakistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was arrested and hanged in 1979. The present prime minister’s brother, Nawaz Sharif, who additionally served as prime minister, was arrested a number of instances on corruption allegations.

In March, police stormed Khan’s Lahore residence, looking for to arrest him based mostly on a court docket order in a distinct case. Dozens of individuals, together with police, had been injured in ensuing clashes. Khan was not arrested on the time and later obtained bail within the case.

Khan got here to energy in 2018 after successful parliamentary elections and had initially good relations with the navy which step by step soured.

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