Former Prime Minister Imran Khan is led away from a court in Pakistan. Riots break out in several cities. Khan’s supporters storm a Pakistani military building.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan has been arrested in Pakistan. The politician was taken from a court in the capital Islamabad on Tuesday, where he had to appear in connection with a bail application. Local TV stations showed images of Khan being pushed into an armored vehicle by officers. Islamabad police say Khan has been arrested on corruption charges. Arrest warrants had been issued by the Pakistan Anti-Corruption Agency (NAB).
The arrest of the popular opposition leader and former cricket star has sparked outrage among his supporters. There were clashes between them and police forces in several cities, local media reported. According to former human rights minister Shirin Mazari, an employee of Khan’s party was killed during protests in the western Pakistani city of Quetta.
Followers storm military buildings
As the secret service of the German Press Agency confirmed, Imran Khan’s supporters stormed the main building of the Pakistani military in the metropolis of Rawalpindi. Supporters also broke into a military building in the city of Lahore in the north-east of the country.
Khan was ousted by a no-confidence vote in April 2022 after nearly four years as prime minister. He was accused, among other things, of mismanagement in the economy. In recent months, as an opposition politician, Khan has repeatedly called for mass protests against the government and new elections in the country. During a demonstration in November, an assassin shot him in the leg.
The European Union expressed concern about the escalation of internal political tensions. In such difficult and tense times, restraint and a cool head are required, stressed a spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday. The country’s challenges could only be resolved through serious dialogue and in accordance with existing laws.
The military had issued a statement
Khan’s arrest came a day after the military issued a statement. It deplored Khan’s “fabricated and malicious claims” that senior military officials were behind the assassination attempts against him.
Since Khan’s ouster, the Pakistani judiciary has repeatedly brought new allegations against him. He now has to answer in court in around 100 cases. The allegations are about corruption, money laundering and insulting a judge.
An attempt to arrest Khan in March at his residence in the metropolis of Lahore failed after serious clashes with his supporters. The 70-year-old had holed himself up in the house for about a week to avoid arrest. He had justified his non-appearance at several court dates in the past with threats against him.
Khan’s arrest could further fuel political unrest in Pakistan. The country with more than 230 million inhabitants is also struggling with massive inflation, the strengthening of the Pakistani Taliban and the aftermath of last summer’s flood disaster.
Observers see the actions against Khan as politically motivated. Even under Khan as prime minister, the judiciary was used to prevent members of the opposition from pursuing their political activities. “Yesterday it was Imran Khan who sent his political opponents to prison and today the same thing is happening to him,” said Pakistani political analyst Zafarullah Khan.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.