Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan was arrested by Pakistani Rangers from the Islamabad High Court premises on Tuesday (9 May).
Soon after the arrest, thousands of his supporters across the country took to the streets demanding his release.
Khan is accused by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country’s anti-corruption watchdog, of receiving billions of rupees from a real estate firm to legalise laundered money that the UK returned to Pakistan during the tenure of his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf’s (PTI) government.
While the NAB has said that Khan will remain in custody for at least four to five days, the country is now reeling under the strife as PTI supporters have hit the streets.
Further, the anger of PTI supporters was reportedly targeted more towards the military establishment and their offices, homes and installations.
According to reports, the PTI supporters started marching towards the general headquarters in Rawalpindi, military controlled areas, corps commander’s residence in Lahore and other military managed areas.
The protests turned more violent as police vehicles were vandalised and the residence of corps commander attacked in Lahore. Many vehicles were damaged with steel roads, bricks, stones, blocks, and batons.
In Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi and Peshawar, thousands took to the streets with violent outbursts and the police forces used water cannons and batons to disperse the crowd.
The official stance of the NAB is that the arrest is concerning the accusation of money laundering against the ex-prime minister, and illegal land acquisition for and construction of the Al Qadir University of the Al Qadir Trust of which Khan and his wife are trustees.
However, political analysts believe that the arrest is the continuation of the ongoing tussle between Khan and the military establishment of the country.
Notably, the Pakistan military is known to be instrumental in the country’s political setting, including the selection of leaders in the government.
Khan government’s ousting and failure is also linked to the former prime minister’s disagreements and tussle with the military leaders, whom he accuses of acting on directions of foreign powers such as the US, in an alleged conspiracy against him.
The protesters’ targeting of the military establishments across the state is also indicative of the disaffection between the PTI supporters and military.
Further, the PTI has already challenged the arrest in the Islamabad High Court, which has also taken suo moto cognisance of the arrest and issued notice to the NAB to justify the arrest and custody. Khan was presented before the court today (10 May).
As Pakistan copes with the ongoing violence and rioting in various parts of the country, the government is continuing to deal with one of the worst economic crises and crumbling state financial infrastructure.
Sources also report that social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube remain suspended in various parts of the country.
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.