Large demonstrations are taking place across Pakistan, after former Prime Minister, cricket hero Imran Khan was arrested today. The internet and social media are shutdown in several of the big cities with people fearing for tomorrow.
Imran Khan was the Prime Minister of Pakistan from 2018, until he lost power after a vote of no confidence in April 2022.
According to Geo News, Khan was arrested by a paramilitary force when he was to appear in court in the capital Islamabad in connection with a corruption case. A video of the arrest shows dozens of police officers in heavy riot gear surrounding Khan and ushering him into a black van.
Soon after, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party confirmed that the party leader had been arrested. (NTB)
Four years after he helped secure Pakistan’s first and only World Cup title in cricket in 1992, the Pashtun Imran Khan founded the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), which means Pakistan’s Movement for Justice. For over two decades, he has been the “Islamist” star of the poor in the struggle to wrest power from the leadership of the Pakistan Muslim League (N). This is seen by many, especially in the poorest provinces such as Khyber Pakhtunkwa (on the border with Afghanistan, as led by corrupt elite politicians.
From being the wealthy playboy who married English woman Jemima Goldsmith in 1995, he has gradually used his legend status to build up a political status as a defender of the poor.
His sympathetic position towards the Pakistani Taliban and Afghan Taliban, as well as his criticism of the US-led war on terror, has earned him the moniker “Taliban Khan” in Pakistani politics. He believes in negotiations with the Taliban and the pull out of the Pakistan Army from Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He is against US drone strikes and plans to disengage Pakistan from the US-led war on terror. Khan also opposes almost all military operations, including the Siege of Lal Masjid.
His sympathies for both the Pakistani Taliban and the Afghan Taliban, as well as his criticism of the US-led war on terror, have earned him the nickname “Taliban Khan” in Pakistani politics. He believes in negotiations with the Taliban and withdrawal of the army from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). He is against the US drone war, and plans to disengage Pakistan from the US-led war on terror. Khan is also against almost all military operations, including the siege of Lal Masjid. (Wikipedia)
The riots in Pakistan are broadcast live on several platforms, including YouTube:
The arrest on Tuesday came a day after he was warned against making what the military calls “baseless allegations” after Khan once again accused a senior intelligence officer of plotting to kill him.
The military supported Khan when he came to power in 2018, but withdrew its support before he was defeated in a no-confidence vote last year. It is common for the Pakistani government to seek support from the military, which has ruled the country for 30 of the 75 years since independence from British colonial rule.
Pakistan is struggling with a deep political and economic crisis. The interest rate has been increased to 21 per cent in an attempt to overcome the price increase, which is 36 per cent. A rescue package from the International Monetary Fund has been stalled since November, and debt relief from friendly countries is long overdue. Meanwhile, the country is running out of money.
The country is now governed by a shaky coalition government, with Khan trying to push for new elections.
The constitutional situation is also unclear after Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government last month rejected a Supreme Court order to hold elections in Punjab province by mid-May. This could lead to the court taking legal action against the government. The Supreme Court has previously dismissed two prime ministers. (NTB)
All over the world, including in Oslo, there have been demonstrations outside Pakistani embassies. There have been reports of casualties, but the situation is unclear. It is now approaching midnight in Islamabad, if the protests continue, a state of emergency may very well be introduced during Wednesday. The Pakistani army is powerful and has also previously intervened in “the chaos of the civilians”.
Protests erupt after Imran Khan’s arrest (Live coverage – Dawn.com)