Aletho News


Anger spreads in Pakistan as govt arrests nearly 1,000 Imran Khan supporters

The Cradle | May 10, 2023

Pakistani police have detained at least 945 supporters of ousted prime minister Imran Khan in Punjab, the country’s most populous province, since protests erupted on 9 May following Khan’s arrest.

At least one protester was shot dead by security forces in the southwestern city of Quetta on Tuesday, according to a CNN reporter present at the scene.

“Police teams arrested 945 lawbreakers and miscreants from across the province,” officials said in a statement to the media, adding that 130 security officers were injured, 25 police and government vehicles were burnt, and 14 government buildings were attacked during the protests.

In the face of popular discontent, the interior ministry on 10 May requisitioned the help of the army to “maintain law and order” in Punjab.

On Tuesday, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) deployed dozens of paramilitary troops to dramatically detain Khan under alleged charges of “corruption and corrupt practices.”

The former premier was presented in an Islamabad court on Wednesday morning to face the charges. During the hearing, the NAB requested the court approve Khan be kept under police custody for 14 days, a move his lawyers opposed.

Khan’s lawyers also insisted that the court investigate the irregular manner in which the 70-year old politician was arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court.

In a pre-recorded statement released on YouTube by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party after his arrest, the former premier said he was “detained on incorrect charges” and told his supporters, “the time has come for all of you to come and struggle for your rights.”

“I have always followed the law. I am being apprehended so that I can’t follow my political path for this country’s fundamental rights and for me to obey this corrupt government of crooks which has been hoisted on us,” Khan added.

Following his arrest, his supporters broke into the military’s headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi, just outside the capital.

Protesters also blocked one of the main thoroughfares into Islamabad, throwing stones and pulling down street signs.

Authorities responded by deploying internet jammers and disrupting access to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube in the nation of 270 million.

Khan’s arrest came just a few months before crucial elections in October, where many expect the ousted premier to win the largest democratic mandate ever secured by any politician in the 75-year history of Pakistan.

The former cricket star was ousted from government last year in a US-backed parliamentary coup that saw Shehbaz Sharif – a protégé of the Sharif business dynasty that has governed Pakistan for much of the last three decades – come to power.

Khan previously saw his relationship with the US sour after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban. They were also at odds over Afghan state assets frozen by Washington and about US flights over Pakistan.

More pressure started to build against Khan after he criticized western powers for pressuring Islamabad into condemning Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine.

“What do you think of us? Are we your slaves … that whatever you say, we will do?” Khan said at a political rally early last year.

Since his ousting, he has been arrested, charged with “terrorism,” banned from running for office, and even survived an assassination attempt.

May 10, 2023 - Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | ,

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