Protests have erupted in Pakistan after Imran Khan’s arrest.
Khan’s party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) workers protested in cities across the country, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore and Karachi, according to a report by broadcaster Geo News.
The former Prime Minister was arrested outside Islamabad on Tuesday on the National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) warrant in the Al-Qadir Trust case, which accuses Khan, wife Bushra Bibi and others for the alleged gain of hundreds of canals of land in the name of Al Qadir University Trust, which reportedly caused a loss of 190 million pounds to the national exchequer.
The party has asserted that nationwide protests will continue until the release of Khan.
Taking to its official Twitter handle, the party released a statement saying ‘Important instructions from the party leadership: Senior leadership of Tehreek-e-Insaf and workers and supporters of Islamabad will arrive at Judicial Complex Islamabad at 8 am. The ongoing sit-ins and protests across the country will continue in their respective locations until the release of Imran Khan.’
Meanwhile, Senior Vice President Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said the party will approach the Supreme Court today morning to challenge the Islamabad High Court’s upholding of Khan’s arrest, terming the Court’s decision ‘surprising.’
Local media have reported at least two deaths amid the protests.
Police have also carried out raids and detained PTI supporters.
Scores of vehicles badly burned in Karachi, while mobile internet services remain inaccessible across the country. Schools also remain closed, with main roads being blocked in major cities.
Khan’s supporters have also taken to the streets in the UK, US and Canada, among other countries.
Khan was ousted as prime minister in April last year and has been campaigning for early elections since then.
Widely believed to have taken the top job under the aegis of the powerful Pakistan military, Khan has recently been a vocal critic of the establishment, including allegations of plans to assassinate him.
The polls are due to be held later this year.
Hours before the arrest, party officials released a pre-recorded video by Khan, in which he urged supporters to come out in support of ‘true freedom.’
‘My Pakistanis, by the time these words reach you I would have been detained under an illegitimate case,’ he says in the video.
‘One thing should become clear for all of you from this is that fundamental rights in Pakistan, the rights given to us by our constitution and democracy, have been buried,’ he added.
The international community too reacted to Khan’s arrest, with the EU saying ‘Restraint and cool headedness are needed.’
‘Pakistan’s challenges can only be addressed and its pathway can only be determined by Pakistanis themselves, through sincere dialogue and in line with the rule of law,’ it added in its statement.
A spokesman from the US State Department called for the ‘respect of democratic principles and the rule of law around the world.’
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