Conflicts & War

Pakistan government deploys army to quell deepening unrest after Khan’s arrest

Islamabad, May 10 (EFE).- The Pakistani government Wednesday sought the army’s help in quelling street violence in the country’s most populous region of Punjab a day after the dramatic arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan sparked riots across the country.

Khan was apprehended by paramilitary law enforcement officers during a bail hearing in Islamabad on Tuesday, which led to violent demonstrations across Pakistan.

A provincial government notification said it would work out the “exact numbers of troops, assets, date and area” for the army deployment in Punjab after consulting the defense headquarters.

The eastern province has seen intense violence after Khan’s arrest by paramilitary troopers from a court complex in the national capital Islamabad.

The Punjab Police has detained some 1,000 individuals for their alleged involvement in violence, vandalism, and attacks on government buildings, with at least four reported fatalities.

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Mobile internet services have been suspended, and the right to assembly has been revoked in Islamabad and Punjab.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 have been arrested in overnight raids.”

“The police broke into the houses of our workers who were elected members of the parliament. These include some women members,” PTI leader Shireen Mazari told EFE.

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 protesters left the buildings after storming them.

Video clips showed enraged protesters beating police officers with sticks.

Women have also been seen clashing with the police after they stopped them on the roads.

Four of Khan’s supporters were killed in the cities of Quetta, Faisalabad, Chakdara, and Lahore, according to the PTI, the largest party in the South Asian nation of more than 231 million people.

Images of people lying on the ground bleeding were shared online, but authorities have offered no information on casualties.

Authorities suspended the right of assembly in Islamabad and throughout Khan’s native province of Punjab.

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.

But he lost power in a parliament trust vote in April 2022.

The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician accused the military of a role in his ouster and trying to assassinate him.

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