Protesters loyal to Imran Khan's political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), clashed with law enforcement outside his Lahore residence after a failed attempt to detain the ex-prime minister on Tuesday (14 March).
The police used tear gas, armoured vehicles, and water cannons to contain protests by supporters outside the compound. The PTI claimed the compound was "under attack", while the police faced stones thrown by protesters.
Ousted Khan and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's government are in a bitter political stand-off for months over the deep economic crisis the country is facing.
Khan is anticipated to be a favorite contender in the upcoming national elections. However, legal obstacles impede his candidacy, and he could be disqualified if found guilty. The elections are scheduled to occur by October.
The arrest of Khan is linked to accusations of illegally selling presents he received during his tenure as Pakistan’s prime minister from 2018-2022.
Investigations by the election commission found that he violated regulations, and a court in Islamabad mandated his arrest after he failed to attend a hearing. Khan cited security reasons as the cause of his absence.
Khan, addressing his supporters on Twitter, denies violating any regulations and dismisses the accusations as an effort to disqualify him before the election. He urges his followers to demonstrate their defiance by proving his detractors wrong.
Protesters attempted to block Islamabad's main road connecting to Rawalpindi. Karachi and Peshawar also experienced demonstrations.
PTI leader Shireen Mazari warned of heightened protests if Khan is arrested, saying that the situation would worsen if he is taken into custody.
Pakistan's economic crisis, caused by inflation and increased commodity costs following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, has worsened political tension in the country, creating one of the worst financial crises in its history.
This month, the inflation index for everyday items exceeded 40 per cent, and the country's foreign reserves declined to $4 billion, sufficient for only one month's imports.
Sharif's government attempted to negotiate a bailout with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), but failed.
To meet an important IMF requirement, Pakistan's central bank increased its lending rate by 300 basis points to 20 per cent, the highest in Asia.
Despite resisting IMF demands to raise taxes and reduce energy subsidies, the government argues that these actions are politically unfeasible prior to elections.
As you are no doubt aware, Swarajya is a media product that is directly dependent on support from its readers in the form of subscriptions. We do not have the muscle and backing of a large media conglomerate nor are we playing for the large advertisement sweep-stake.
Our business model is you and your subscription. And in challenging times like these, we need your support now more than ever.
We deliver over 10 - 15 high quality articles with expert insights and views. From 7AM in the morning to 10PM late night we operate to ensure you, the reader, get to see what is just right.
Becoming a Patron or a subscriber for as little as Rs 1200/year is the best way you can support our efforts.