Sat. May 27th, 2023

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ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested and dragged from court docket Tuesday as he appeared to face expenses in a number of graft instances, a dramatic escalation of political tensions that sparked violent demonstrations by his offended supporters throughout the nation.

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

At the least one individual was reported killed in clashes between protesters and the navy in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, with one other 5 folks wounded there, whereas about 15 accidents have been reported amid comparable 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. Lessons at some non-public faculties have 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 celebration, after which shoved into an armored automobile 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.

A scuffle broke out between Khan’s supporters and police exterior the court docket. A few of Khan’s attorneys and supporters have been injured within the melee, as have been a number of police, Chaudhry stated.

Khan was taken to the garrison metropolis of Rawalpindi, close to Islamabad, for questioning on the places of work of the Nationwide Accountability Bureau, based on 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 expenses within the graft instances.

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

Tuesday’s arrest was based mostly 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. His attorneys challenged the legality of the arrest, however the court docket upheld it, though it added that Khan mustn’t have been forcibly faraway from the courtroom. Khan is scheduled to seem 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 advised a information convention. He alleged Pakistan’s treasury had misplaced hundreds of thousands of {dollars} whereas Khan was in workplace resulting from unlawful purchases of lands from a enterprise tycoon.

The Nationwide Accountability Bureau is Pakistan’s highly effective anti-corruption group that has detained and investigated former officers, together with prime ministers, politicians and retired navy officers. However some view the NAB as a device utilized by these in energy, particularly the navy, to crack down on political opponents. When Khan was in energy, his authorities arrested Sharif, then the opposition chief, via the NAB.

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 automobiles and broken public property in components 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 automobiles and blocked key roads.

Protesters additionally smashed the principle 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 street.

Raoof Hasan, one other chief from Khan’s celebration, advised Al Jazeera English tv that the arrest is “blatant interference within the judicial affairs by the powers-that-be.” Hasan added that Khan “was nearly kidnapped from the court docket 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 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 immediately dominated Pakistan for greater than half of the 75 years because the 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 well from final 12 months’s devastating floods that killed a whole lot and prompted $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.

In an announcement, the European Union urged “restraint and funky headedness” within the nation, via dialogue and the rule of regulation.

In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Overseas Secretary James Cleverly each stated at a information convention they have been conscious of stories about Khan’s arrest however declined any substantive remark. “We simply wish to guarantee that no matter occurs in Pakistan is in step with the rule of regulation, with the structure,” Blinken stated.

Cleverly stated he had not been briefed intimately however added, “The U.Ok. has a longstanding and shut relationship with Pakistan. We’re Commonwealth companions. We wish to see peaceable democracy in that nation. We wish ot see the rule of regulation adhered to. I’m uncomfortable to invest additional with out having an in depth briefing on that.”

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, in search of to arrest him based mostly on a court docket order in a unique case. Dozens of individuals, together with police, have 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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