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

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested and dragged from courtroom Tuesday as he appeared to face prices in a number of graft circumstances, a dramatic escalation of political tensions that sparked violent demonstrations by his offended supporters in a number of main cities.

The arrest of Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022 however stays the main opposition determine, represented the most recent confrontation to roil Pakistan, which has seen former prime ministers arrested through the years and interventions by its highly effective army.

At the least one particular person was reported killed in clashes between protesters and the army in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, with one other 5 individuals wounded there, whereas about 15 accidents had been reported amid related violence in Karachi, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore. Police fired tear fuel to disperse demonstrations.

Amid the violence, officers at Pakistan’s telecommunication authority stated regulators blocked social media, together with Twitter, and web service was suspended within the capital of Islamabad and different cities. Courses at some personal colleges had been canceled for Wednesday.

Khan was faraway 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 occasion, after which 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 impartial GEO TV broadcast video of Khan being hauled away.

A scuffle broke out between Khan’s supporters and police outdoors the courtroom. 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 occasion complained to the courtroom, which requested a police report explaining the fees for Khan’s arrest.

Khan was taken to the garrison metropolis of Rawalpindi, close to Islamabad, for questioning on the workplaces of the Nationwide Accountability Bureau, in accordance 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 prices within the graft circumstances.

He has denounced the circumstances towards him, which embrace terrorism prices, 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 primarily based on a brand new warrant from the Nationwide Accountability Bureau obtained final week in a separate graft case for which Khan had not been granted bail, making him susceptible to be seized, and his attorneys challenged the legality of the arrest. He’s scheduled to look at 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 instructed a information convention. He alleged Pakistan’s treasury had misplaced tens of millions of {dollars} whereas Khan was in workplace attributable to unlawful purchases of lands from a enterprise tycoon.

At a information convention, Regulation Minister Azam Tarar stated Khan was arrested as a result of he was not cooperating with the investigations. He additionally denounced the violence by Khan supporters, saying that protests should stay peaceable.

“It ought to haven’t occurred,” he stated, shortly after TV video emerged of burning autos and broken public property in elements of the nation.

Authorities stated they’ve banned rallies within the jap province of Punjab.

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 autos 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 lot 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 a whole lot of Khan supporters who had gathered on a key highway.

Raoof Hasan, one other chief from Khan’s occasion, instructed 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 courtroom of regulation.”

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 one among 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 army accused Khan of “fabricated and malicious allegations” of its involvement within the November taking pictures, saying they’re “extraordinarily unlucky, deplorable and unacceptable.”

The army has immediately 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 yr’s devastating floods that killed a whole lot and precipitated $30 billion in injury, slammed Khan for assailing the army.

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

In a press release, the European Union urged “restraint and funky headedness” within the nation, by dialogue and the rule of regulation.

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 primarily based on a courtroom order in a unique 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 profitable parliamentary elections and had initially good relations with the army which step by step soured.

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