Violence spreads across Pakistan as Imran Khan is arrested and dragged from court


Pakistan’s former prime minister Imran Khan has been arrested and dragged from court as he appeared to face charges in multiple corruption cases, sparking violent demonstrations by his supporters in almost all of the country’s major cities.

At least one person was reported killed in clashes between protesters and the military in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, with another five people wounded, while about 15 injuries were reported amid similar violence in Karachi, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore.

Police fired tear gas to disperse demonstrations.

Officials at Pakistan’s telecoms authority said regulators had blocked social media including Twitter, and internet service was suspended in Islamabad and other cities.

Classes at some private schools were cancelled for Wednesday.

Police officers detain a supporter of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan as they protest against his arrest, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Police officers detain a supporter of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan as they protest against his arrest, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Flames rise from the Radio Pakistan premises after it was set on fire during clashes between police and supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan protesting against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Flames rise from the Radio Pakistan premises after it was set on fire during clashes between police and supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan protesting against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022 but remains the leading opposition figure.

He was removed from Islamabad High Court by security agents from the National Accountability Bureau, said Fawad Chaudhry, a senior official with his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, and then shoved into an armoured car and driven away.

Mr Chaudhry denounced the arrest of the 71-year-old former cricket star as ‘an abduction’. Pakistan’s independent GEO TV broadcast video of Khan being hauled away.

A scuffle broke out between Khan supporters and police outside the court. Some of Khan’s lawyers and supporters were injured in the melee, as were several police, Mr Chaudhry said.

Khan’s party complained to the court, which requested a police report explaining the charges for the arrest.

Khan was taken to the garrison city of Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, for questioning at the offices of the National Accountability Bureau, according to police and government officials.

He had arrived at Islamabad High Court from nearby Lahore, where he lives, to face charges in the corruption cases.

He has denounced the cases against him, which include terrorism charges, as a politically motivated plot by his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, saying his removal was illegal and a western conspiracy. Khan has campaigned against Mr Sharif and demanded early elections.

A motorcyclist covers his daughter's face as he rides past teargas fired by police to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran protesting against the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar on May 9, 2023

A motorcyclist covers his daughter’s face as he rides past teargas fired by police to Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran protesting against the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar on May 9, 2023

Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan (pictured) was arrested Tuesday as he appeared in a court in the country's capital, Islamabad, to face charges in multiple graft cases

Khan had posted a video (pictured) to his social media channels hours before his arrest today

Imran Khan's lawyer received medical attention for his injuries amid the arrest of the former prime minister at a court in Islamabad today

Imran Khan’s lawyer received medical attention for his injuries amid the arrest of the former prime minister at a court in Islamabad today

Pakistani police use teargas shells against the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during a protest held against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Lahore, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

Pakistani police use teargas shells against the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during a protest held against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Lahore, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

Pakistani police use teargas shells and water cannon against the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during a protest held against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Lahore, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

Pakistani police use teargas shells and water cannon against the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during a protest held against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Lahore, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

Pakistani police use teargas shells against the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during a protest held against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Lahore, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

Pakistani police use teargas shells against the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during a protest held against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Lahore, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

Imran Khan (seen in blue and white in the middle of a scrum of armoured police officers in Islamabad today) was arrested and led away during a court hearing, dramatic footage shows, with his supporters claiming he is being tortured

Imran Khan (seen in blue and white in the middle of a scrum of armoured police officers in Islamabad today) has been arrested and led away during a court hearing, dramatic footage shows, with his supporters claiming he is being tortured

Policeman fires tear gas shells during clashes with supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan as they protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Policeman fires tear gas shells during clashes with supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan as they protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Tuesday’s arrest was based on a new warrant from the National Accountability Bureau obtained last week in a separate case for which Khan had not been granted bail, making him vulnerable to be seized, and his lawyers have challenged the legality of the arrest. He is scheduled to appear at an anti-corruption tribunal on Wednesday, officials said.

‘Imran Khan has been arrested because he was being sought in a graft case,’ interior minister Rana Sanaullah Khan told a news conference.

He alleged Pakistan’s treasury had lost millions of dollars while Khan was in office due to illegal purchases of lands from a business tycoon.

At a news conference, law minister Azam Tarar said Khan was arrested because he was not cooperating with the investigations. He also denounced the violence by Khan supporters, saying protests must remain peaceful.

‘It should have not happened,’ he said, shortly after TV video emerged of burning vehicles and damaged public property in parts of the country.

Authorities said they have banned rallies in the eastern province of Punjab.

As the news of the arrest spread, about 4,000 Khan supporters stormed the official residence of the top regional commander in Lahore, smashing windows and doors, damaging furniture and staging a sit-in as troops retreated to avoid violence. The protesters also burned police vehicles and blocked key roads.

Protesters also smashed the main gate of the army’s headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where troops exercised restraint. Hundreds of demonstrators shouted pro-Khan slogans as they moved towards the sprawling building.

In Karachi, police swung batons and fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Khan supporters who had gathered on a key road.

Raoof Hasan, another leader from Khan’s party, told Al Jazeera English television that the arrest was ‘blatant interference in the judicial affairs by the powers-that-be’. He added that Khan ‘was virtually abducted from the court of law’.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran clash with police amid teargas during a protest against the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar on May 9, 2023

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran clash with police amid teargas during a protest against the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar on May 9, 2023

Plainclothes police officers beat a supporter of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan as they detain him when he with others blocking a road as protest to condemn the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, on May 9, 2023

Plainclothes police officers beat a supporter of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan as they detain him when he with others blocking a road as protest to condemn the arrest of their leader, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan stand amid tear gas fired by policemen during clashes as they protest against Khan's arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan stand amid tear gas fired by policemen during clashes as they protest against Khan’s arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan shout slogans during a protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan shout slogans during a protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Policemen retreat after firing teargas shells towards Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran near burning car during a protest against the arrest of their leader in Karachi on May 9, 2023

Policemen retreat after firing teargas shells towards Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran near burning car during a protest against the arrest of their leader in Karachi on May 9, 2023

Men on a bike ride past a burning police vehicle during a protest by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran against the arrest of their leader, in Quetta on May 9, 2023

Men on a bike ride past a burning police vehicle during a protest by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran against the arrest of their leader, in Quetta on May 9, 2023

Pakistani police use teargas shells against the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during a protest held against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

Pakistani police use teargas shells against the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) during a protest held against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

A boy rides past a paramilitary check post, that was set afire by the supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a protest against his arrest, in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

A boy rides past a paramilitary check post, that was set afire by the supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, during a protest against his arrest, in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan clash with police as they protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan clash with police as they protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

A police vehicle is seen burning along a road during a protest by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran against the arrest of their leader, in Karachi, on May 9, 2023

A police vehicle is seen burning along a road during a protest by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran against the arrest of their leader, in Karachi, on May 9, 2023

A police officer detains a person during protest by supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan against his arrest, in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

A police officer detains a person during protest by supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan against his arrest, in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

A police officer fires a gas launcher as supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan clash with police during a protest against Khan's arrest, in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

A police officer fires a gas launcher as supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan clash with police during a protest against Khan’s arrest, in Karachi, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Protesters burned tires and other materials to block roads as the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) held a protest against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

Protesters burned tires and other materials to block roads as the supporters of Former Prime Minister Imran Khan and political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) held a protest against the arrest of their leader Imran Khan, in Peshawar, Pakistan on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan protest against his arrest in Pakistan, outside of the High Commission for Pakistan in London on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan protest against his arrest in Pakistan, outside of the High Commission for Pakistan in London on May 9, 2023

Khan’s arrest came hours after he issued a video message before heading to Islamabad, saying he was ‘mentally prepared’ for arrest.

Khan was wounded by a gunman at a rally in November in an attack that killed one of his supporters and wounded 13.

He has insisted, without offering any evidence, that there is a plot to assassinate him, alleging that Pakistan’s spy agency was behind the conspiracy.

The gunman was immediately arrested and police later released a video of him in custody, allegedly saying he had acted alone.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran throw stones to a police water cannon vehicle during a protest against the arrest of their leader, in Lahore on May 9, 2023

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party activists and supporters of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran throw stones to a police water cannon vehicle during a protest against the arrest of their leader, in Lahore on May 9, 2023

Policeman fires tear gas shells during clashes with supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan as they protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9. 2023

Policeman fires tear gas shells during clashes with supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan as they protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9. 2023

Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan gather outside the paramilitary FC headquarters during a protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan gather outside the paramilitary FC headquarters during a protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan block a road with burning objects during clashes with police as they protest against Khan's arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan block a road with burning objects during clashes with police as they protest against Khan’s arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran shout slogans during a protest against the arrest of their leader, in Lahore on May 9, 2023

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran shout slogans during a protest against the arrest of their leader, in Lahore on May 9, 2023

Security personnel escort Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan (centre) sitting on a wheelchair at the high court in Islamabad on May 9

Security personnel escort Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan (centre) sitting on a wheelchair at the high court in Islamabad on May 9

Private security personnel with bulletproof shields escort former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives to appear in a court, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 9

Private security personnel with bulletproof shields escort former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives to appear in a court, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 9

Security personnel use bullet proof shields to protect Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives at the high court in Islamabad on May 9

Security personnel use bullet proof shields to protect Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives at the high court in Islamabad on May 9

Security personnel stand guard as Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives at the high court in Islamabad on May 9

Security personnel stand guard as Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan arrives at the high court in Islamabad on May 9

Pictured: Security personnel escort a car carrying Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives at the high court in Islamabad on May 9

Pictured: Security personnel escort a car carrying Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan as he arrives at the high court in Islamabad on May 9

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran stand amid teargas fired by police during a protest against the arrest of their leader in Karachi on May 9

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activists and supporters of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran stand amid teargas fired by police during a protest against the arrest of their leader in Karachi on May 9

A Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activist and supporter of former Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran holds a burning tyre and and party flag during a protest against the arrest of their leader in Multan on May 9

A Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party activist and supporter of former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran holds a burning tyre and and party flag during a protest against the arrest of their leader in Multan on May 9

Pakistani security forces are seen outside the Islamabad High Court where former Prime Minister and Chairman of Pakistan Tehreeke-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan was due to appear in a case, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Pakistani security forces are seen outside the Islamabad High Court where former Prime Minister and Chairman of Pakistan Tehreeke-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan was due to appear in a case, in Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 9, 2023

Khan (pictured last year) was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April last year. He has claimed his ouster was illegal and a Western conspiracy and has campaigned against the government of his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, demanding early elections

Khan (pictured last year) was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April last year. He has claimed his ouster was illegal and a Western conspiracy and has campaigned against the government of his successor, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, demanding early elections

In a strongly worded statement on Monday, the military accused Khan of ‘fabricated and malicious allegations’ about its involvement in the November shooting, saying they are ‘extremely unfortunate, deplorable and unacceptable’.

The military has directly ruled Pakistan for more than half of the 75 years since the country gained independence from British colonial rule, and wields considerable power over civilian governments.

Mr Sharif, whose government faces spiralling economic woes, condemned Khan for criticising the military.

‘Let this be abundantly clear that you, as former prime minister, currently on trial for corruption, are claiming legitimacy to overturn the legal and political system,’ Mr Sharif tweeted after Khan’s arrest.

In Washington, US secretary of state Antony Blinken and UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly told a news conference they were aware of reports about Khan’s arrest but declined any substantive comment. 

‘We just want to make sure that whatever happens in Pakistan is consistent with the rule of law, with the constitution,’ Mr Blinken said.

Mr Cleverly said: ‘The UK has a longstanding and close relationship with Pakistan. We are Commonwealth partners. We want to see peaceful democracy in that country. We want to see the rule of law adhered to. I’m uncomfortable to speculate further without having a detailed briefing on that.’

Khan is the seventh former prime minister to be arrested in Pakistan. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was arrested and hanged in 1979. The current prime minister’s brother, Nawaz Sharif, who also served as prime minister, was arrested several times on corruption allegations.

In March, police stormed Khan’s Lahore residence, seeking to arrest him based on a court order in a different case. Dozens of people, including police, were injured in ensuing clashes. Khan was not arrested at the time and later obtained bail in the case.

Khan came to power in 2018 after winning parliamentary elections and had initially good relations with the military which gradually soured.



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