Ex-Pakistan PM in custody for 8 days amidst deepening unrest
Islamabad, May 10 (EFE).- A court in Pakistan Wednesday ordered an eight-day detention for questioning former prime minister Imran Khan as the government battled to ease the growing street unrest triggered by his arrest the day before.
The administration in the most populous Punjab region sought the army’s help in curbing violence that has left at least four people dead in clashes between police and Khan’s supporters.
Paramilitary law enforcement officers arrested Khan during a bail hearing in Islamabad on Tuesday, sparking riots across Pakistan.
His defense lawyers said Khan appeared before a judge at a makeshift court inside a police complex on Wednesday.
The National Accountability Bureau, the top anti-graft agency, sought 14-day detention to question Khan.
But the court allowed the authorities to question him for only eight days, according to the Dawn news website.
Separately, a court also indicted Khan in another case of allegedly selling state gifts from foreign dignitaries that he had to keep at a government repository.
The situation continued to be volatile, with protests in many places, forcing the government in Punjab to seek army assistance in bringing peace.
A provincial government notification said it would work out with the defense headquarters the “exact numbers of troops, assets, date and area” for the army deployment in Punjab.
The province has seen intense violence after Khan’s arrest from a court complex in Islamabad.
The Punjab Police has detained some 1,000 individuals for their alleged involvement in violence, vandalism, and attacks on government buildings in protest against his arrest.
A police spokesperson said 130 officers suffered injuries in street clashes with Khan’s supporters on Tuesday.
Some 25 police vehicles and 14 government buildings were set ablaze during the demonstrations.
Mobile internet services have been suspended, and the right to assembly has been revoked in Islamabad and Punjab.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said thousands of its workers and supporters were arrested in overnight raids.
On Tuesday, some protesters broke into the army’s general headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi and the regional military bases in Lahore and Peshawar.
The all-powerful military issued a terse warning to protesters, saying they would be severely dealt with if they tried to breach the military installations again.
“Further attack on the army, including all law enforcement agencies, military, and state installations and properties will be severely retaliated against by the very group that wants to push Pakistan into a civil war and has repeatedly attacked them,” the army statement said, referring to Khan’s PTI.
Four of Khan’s supporters were killed in the cities of Quetta, Faisalabad, Chakdara, and Lahore on Tuesday, according to the PTI, the largest party in the South Asian nation of more than 231 million people.
Khan took office in 2018, promising an end to endemic corruption in the country and to create an Islamic welfare state as a response to Pakistan’s economic crisis.