Pakistan on edge after ex-PM Imran Khan is arrested
Islamabad, May 9 (EFE).- Former prime minister and head of the main opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf was arrested by paramilitary troopers from a court complex in the capital on Tuesday, sparking outrage and widespread protests across the crisis-ridden country.
Khan, who faces several corruption and terrorism charges filed after his ouster last year, was arrested by Pakistan Rangers when he was in the Islamabad High Court for pre-arrest bail.
Online videos recorded with mobile phones show security agents in black uniforms dragging Khan and shoving him into a police vehicle car before whisking him away.
Islamabad police said Khan was taken into custody in a graft case relating to alleged financial malpractices in setting up a multi-million dollar university project trust in the eastern Punjab province.
The arrest may escalate the volatile political situation in Pakistan as his supporters took to the streets, demanding his release, across the country.
PTI tweeted several video clips to show angry protesters clashing with police, flashing Khan’s posters, waving party flags, and shouting anti-government slogans.
In one of the videos, police fired dozens of tear gas shells at a slogan-shouting crowd.
The opposition party called on the people to come out “to save Pakistan” from the government that has “crossed the red line.”
The party called Khan’s arrested an abduction by Pakistan Rangers abducted.”
“Pakistan’s brave people must come out and defend their country,” the opposition party said.
Fawad Chaudhry, a PTI leader and one of the closest aides of Khan, said police and paramilitary troopers beat up his lawyers at the Islamabad High Court.
Another PTI leader Musarrat Cheema alleged in a video message that the paramilitary troopers “are torturing Imran Khan right now.
“They are beating Khan sahib. They have done something with Khan sahib,” Cheema said.
Khan had driven to Islamabad earlier from his residence in the nearby city of Lahore to face charges in multiple graft cases.
Among the cases, Khan is accused of illegally selling state gifts from foreign dignitaries and failing to declare them to the electoral commission among his assets.
Khan claims the cases are part of the government of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to get rid of the opposition.
The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was shot at by a shooter in an assassination attempt that killed a supporter and wounded 13 during a rally last November.
The former prime minister has insisted that the country’s military spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) was plotting to kill him without giving any evidence.
In a statement on Monday, the military denounced Khan for “fabricated and malicious allegations.”
Hours before his arrest, Khan repeated the allegations in a video message, saying the serving military officer he had named for plotting to assassinate him was not a “holy cow.”