Pakistan Erupts After Former PM Arrested

Ally likens Imran Khan's arrest at Islamabad court to an 'abduction'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 9, 2023 8:46 AM CDT
Pakistan's Former PM Arrested, Triggering Chaos in the Streets
Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan throws stones on a water-cannon pouring water to disperse them protesting against the arrest of their leader, in Lahore, Pakistan, Tuesday, May 9, 2023.   (AP Photo/K.M.Chaudary)

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested Tuesday as he appeared in a court in the country’s capital to face charges in multiple graft cases. Security agents dragged Khan outside and shoved him into an armored car before whisking him away, per the AP. The arrest drew nationwide condemnation from supporters of the popular opposition leader and former cricket star turned Islamist politician. Fawad Chaudhry, a senior official with Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, called it "an abduction." Khan, 72, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022. He has claimed his ouster was illegal and a Western conspiracy and that the country's spy agency was behind the conspiracy to assassinate him in November.

After Khan was taken away, a scuffle broke out between his supporters and police outside the court. Chaudhry said some of Khan's lawyers and supporters were injured in the scuffle, as were several policemen. Khan's party immediately complained to the Islamabad High Court, which requested a police report explaining the charges for Khan's arrest. Officials from the anti-corruption body said that Pakistan's National Accountability Bureau had issued arrest warrants for Khan last week in a separate graft case, for which he had not obtained bail—something that would protect him from arrest under the country's laws. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Khan would be brought to appear before an anti-graft tribunal later on Tuesday.

Khan was later moved to the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, where he was to be questioned at the offices of the National Accountability Bureau. He was also to undergo a medical checkup, according to procedure, police said. Khan had arrived in Islamabad earlier on Tuesday from the nearby city of Lahore, where he resides, to face charges before the Islamabad High Court in multiple graft cases. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan said his arrest was linked to a case involving the illegal purchase of lands from a business tycoon, for which the country's treasury suffered millions of dollars in losses.

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But Khan has claimed that the cases against him, which include terrorism charges, are a plot by the government of his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, to discredit him. Khan has campaigned against Sharif's government, demanding early elections. As the news of the arrest spread, Khan's supporters started gathering in Lahore, chanting anti-government slogans. In the port city of Karachi, police swung batons and fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Khan supporters who had blocked a key road. Police were also trying to disperse demonstrators in Lahore, who briefly blocked key roads there as they rallied, mostly peacefully, against Khan's arrest. (More Imran Khan stories.)

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