Pakistan erupts as troops storm court to arrest Imran Khan in corruption case

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan descended into civil disorder on Tuesday, including a reported breach of army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the corps commander’s residence in Lahore cantonment, hours after paramilitary forces broke through a bulldozed path in the Islamabad High Court offices and the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in one of the multiple corruption cases for which he was accused by the Shehbaz Sharif government.
In a late night verdict, the high court declared Imran’s arrest in the Al Qadir Trust case legal after Chief Justice Aamer Farooq summoned senior administration officials to explain why the ex-prime minister was arrested at the court’s premises. Imran was at the High Court for hearings in cases unrelated to one in which he and his wife allegedly received bribes for helping a company launder 50 billion rupees ($239 million) through their trust.

Supporters of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) have taken to the streets of towns and villages across the country in a reaction of shock and fear over the arrest of their party’s leader on the basis of a warrant issued on May 1 by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Chairman Lt Gen Nazir Ahmed in the case. A party sympathizer in Quetta was killed and many others, including police officers, were injured during the riots.

Armed personnel had taken Imran, 70, to the anti-corruption watchdog’s office in Rawalpindi after breaking down doors to the High Court building, jumping through shattered windows and fighting with supporters and lawyers of the PTI to join him.
“Let it be crystal clear that you, as a former prime minister, currently on trial for corruption, claim legitimacy to overthrow the legal and political system,” Prime Minister Shehbaz tweeted.
Imran Khan stops live updates
As news of Imran’s dramatic arrest and alleged assault on his lawyers spread, crowds of protesters went wild in the garrison town and elsewhere, with videos circulating on social media showing a crowd bursting into the army headquarters.
In Islamabad, hundreds of PTI militants blocked Kashmir’s main road, leaving traffic stuck on either side of the road. Peshawar saw a mob set fire to a replica of Chaghi Mountain which had been built as a monument at the site of the country’s nuclear tests in 1998.


Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan Arrested, Massive Protests Follow

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In the southern port city of Karachi, PTI supporters rioted outside the party’s local office along the busy Shahrah-e-Faisal road. Army barricades were set on fire in several garrisons. The government has suspended internet nationwide as part of a series of measures to stem rumors and unrest.
Security personnel fired tear gas and water cannons to disperse protesters in Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Peshawar, Quetta and other parts of the country late into the night. Article 144, which prohibits demonstrations, failed to keep crowds at bay.

“It’s difficult to predict where this country could go in the next 12 to 48 hours. The atmosphere is vitriolic, nebulous and very uncertain at the moment,” said analyst Zeeshan Salahuddin.
Home Minister Rana Sanaullah has alleged that Imran and his current wife Bushra Bibi Khan were paid billions by a real estate tycoon for legalizing his laundered money from the UK. “The money should have been deposited in the national treasury, but it went to a property which was registered as Al Qadir Trust,” he told a presser.
The minister said the anti-corruption agency NAB which ordered Imran’s arrest was “an independent institution, and we never tried to control it”.

Imran may have learned of his arrest hours before he left for court. “If someone has a warrant, he must bring it directly to me. Bring the warrant, my lawyer will be there. I am ready to go to prison myself,” the PTI chief said.
Barrister Gohar Khan, Imran’s lawyer, alleged that the ex-prime minister had been “tortured” in detention. “They hit him in the head and legs,” he said, adding that the PTI president’s wheelchair was thrown by the troops.

Gohar also alleged that security personnel used pepper spray and tear gas during the operation.
Interior Minister Sanaullah disputed the allegations. “No torture was inflicted on him (Imran),” he tweeted.


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