Pakistan arrests more opposition supporters, military vows action against troublemakers
Islamabad, May 16 (EFE).- More opposition workers and sympathizers were detained in nocturnal raids in Pakistan after the all-powerful army vowed action against those who vandalized military installations during rallies over the detention of ex-prime minister Imran Khan.
Khan’s arrest in an alleged corruption case last week sparked a violent upheaval in Pakistan, plunging the nuclear-armed state into a fresh political crisis amid ongoing economic problems.
His supporters and activists of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) took to the streets across the country as groups of protesters gathered outside military installations.
Some people were filmed breaking into the army headquarters’ main entrance in the garrison of Rawalpindi city.
A group of protesters stormed into the home of a senior military commander in Khan’s Lahore hometown, ransacking it and setting it ablaze.
Violence at other places caused at least eight deaths, even as the government called in the army to help police in bringing calm.
The Pakistani judiciary set Khan free and granted him bail in several cases involving sedition, terrorism, and corruption on Friday.
Since then, the police have arrested thousands of PTI workers and Khan’s supporters for vandalizing government properties and disturbing the peace.
“About 7000+ PTI supporters and activists are abducted and have not been produced in any court,” the PTI said.
A PTI statement alleged that its supporters and workers were being “kidnapped” to seek “false statements” against the party and Khan to run cases against on witness accounts.
“Hundreds of them are being tortured, the workers who are not at home, their houses are being broken into and vandalized and the rest of the people at home are being kidnapped,” said the party on Twitter.
On Monday, top military commanders condemned the “politically motivated and instigated” incidents against military installations and public or private properties.
According to a military statement, the corps commanders met on Monday evening to review the situation.
The statement said the military was aware of the “planners, instigators, abettors and perpetrators” of the attacks.
“Those involved in these heinous crimes against the military installations and personal/equipment will be brought to justice through trials under relevant laws of Pakistan, including Pakistan Army Act and Official Secret Act,” the statement said.
The army said it would no longer exercise restraint and act against those “who attack military installations and setups.”
According to the statement, the commanders stressed the need for strict implementation of relevant laws to penalize the violators of the social media rules and regulations.
PTI leader Hammad Azhar said people were told to delete the online post and apologize if they wanted to avoid arrests.
“People are now being picked up for tweeting and posting on Facebook in Pakistan,” Azhar said on the social media site. EFE