breaking news
  • Jagdish Sewhani Addressing at public meeting in Varanasi, Bharat
  • Manifesto Manthan: Does Congress’ Poll Promises Institutionalise Legal Discrimination Against Hindus?
  • Judge approves $418 million damages for home sellers overcharged by Realtors
  • Welcome to Another ‘American Century.’ Set aside the election and hot wars. How the U.S. resolves its crisis of confidence is what’ll shape the world.
  • Taiwan: 9 Dead, Buildings Tilt, Bridges & Cars Shake In Island's Strongest Earthquake In 25 Yrs
  • Amit Shah to campaign in five TN LS constituencies on Thursday

View Details

The South Asian Insider

Pakistan: Imran Khan Arrested; Protestors Target Military Premises; Social Media Restricted

The PTI chief was taken into custody outside the Islamabad high court, where he was appearing for a case related to graft charges. (News Agency)-Former Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan was on Tuesday, May 9, taken into custody by paramilitary police outside the Islamabad high court, where he was appearing for a case related to graft charges. "Imran Khan has been arrested in the Qadir Trust case," the Islamabad police said on Twitter. The allegation in the case is that land was allocated for Al Qadir Trust University in exchange for ensuring the return of £190 million seized in the UK to real estate tycoon Malik Riaz in Pakistan, according to reports. According to the Pakistani newspaper Dawn, Pakistan's interior minister Rana Sanaullah said that Khan was taken into custody because he had failed to appear before the agency despite receiving several notices in the alleged graft case. Khan's close aide, former information minister Fawad Chaudhry, confirmed the arrest and said that workers of Khan's party PTI were "subjected to torture."
The drastic move spurred an angry reaction from party workers and protestors in several cities, with many of them attacking military installations - an indication that they believe the "establishment", the popular euphemism for the Army, is behind the arrest.
Khan's arrest comes after he accused a serving senior intelligence officer of involvement in the attack on him in Wazirabad in November 2022. While the military has rejected the allegation, the PTI chief repeated the claim in a video message that was posted before his arrest on Tuesday.
The government had also tried to take Khan into custody in March this year, but the police's attempts were foiled by PTI supporters who camped near his residence in Lahore.
Meanwhile, the PTI has claimed that Khan was "abducted" and that "scores of lawyers and general people have been tortured".
The party also asked citizens to "come out and defend their country", which echoed Khan's words when the police had attempted to arrest him in March. According to Pakistani TV reports, people started gathering at Khan's Lahore residence soon after his arrest. Protests have also begun in several cities. According to Dawn, the Islamabad police rejected the PTI's allegations that people were tortured. They added that Section 144, which prevents the congregation of more than four people, had been imposed in Islamabad.
Khan was taken into custody by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Pakistan's anti-corruption agency. He was arrested for causing losses to the national treasury, a top government official tweeted.
Ever since he was ousted, Khan attempted to pressure the Shehbaz Sharif government to hold general elections and also to the assembly in Punjab province. The Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa assemblies, where the PTI was in power, were dissolved in January this year as a pressure tactic.
The chief justice of Pakistan's Supreme Court, who is perceived as being friendly to the PTI, has asked the Election Commission of Pakistan to conduct elections in Punjab this month.
The military-government establishment, citing the country's economic situation, has said that elections cannot be held before October.
In a pre-recorded video, Khan - perhaps sensing his impending arrest - said that by the time "these words of mine reach you, I will be arrested in a baseless case. This shows that fundamental rights and democracy in Pakistan have been buried."
What is the case against Khan?
Top officials of the present government have claimed that when Khan was in power, he and his wife Bushra Bibi accepted bribes and land in return for "providing protection" to a real estate firm that was facing charges of money laundering.
According to reports, the company, Bahria Town, "illegally transferred" Pakistani Rs 50 billion to a Pakistani national in the UK which was identified by the UK's National Crime Agency and subsequently reported to the PTI government.
Present interior minister Rana Sanaullah had claimed in June 2022 that Khan's aide Shehzad Akbar "settled" the entire case by adjusting the Pak Rs 50 billion against Bahria Town's liability. Imran Khan accepted a bribe of Rs 5 billion as "his share" for settling the matter, he added.
"The case did not just end here. Bahria Town, after its Rs 50 bn was protected by the government, entered an agreement and allotted a 458-kanal land with an on-paper value of Rs 530 million to a trust owned by Imran and his wife," he claimed, according to a Dawn report.
The PTI chief is also facing allegations that he profited from gifts that he received when he was Pakistan's head of state, in violation of the rules. That case is commonly referred to as the Toshakhana case.
High court expresses displeasure, then says arrest legal
Earlier, the Islamabad high court Chief Justice Aamer Farooq had directed the Islamabad police chief, the secretary of the interior ministry and the additional attorney general to appear before the court within 15 minutes of Khan's arrest.
The officials arrived about 45 minutes later, according to Dawn, at which the chief justice expressed anger. The Islamabad inspector general said he found out about Khan's arrest from media reports.
"But as far as I know and from what the court staff said, Imran was not arrested by the NAB," CJ Farooq said, adding that he will "issue an appropriate order" if the arrest "was in violation of the law".
Lawyer Gohar Khan told the court that he was with Imran Khan when the PTI chief was taken away by the paramilitary Rangers. "They were trying to arrest the PTI chief before he even entered the biometric room," he said, adding that they broke windows and used pepper spray, according to Dawn.
PTI lawyer Khawaja Haris told the court, "Today's arrest is nothing less than an attack on judicial independence."
Another PTI lawyer, Ali Bukhari, said, "The Rangers told us to open the doors but the police objected," he stated. "But then Rangers personnel broke the windows and entered the room. Rangers tortured everyone who was present in the room."
CJ Farooq seemed to agree that the arrest was an attack on judicial independence. He said, according to Dawn, "Is this not an attack on judicial independence? Is this arrest not illegal? Everything is in front of you […] lawyers have been attacked […] my court has been attacked […] I have been attacked."
"The damage to the windows and doors is not important. The damage to the dignity of this building is important," he added.
However, hours after making those remarks, the high court declared the arrest legal.
Protests gather pace
With the PTI asking supporters and ordinary citizens to take to the streets in support of Khan, protests were reported in major cities across Pakistan.
In Rawalpindi, PTI protesters have breached the outer gate of the headquarters of the Pakistani Army.
In cities like Lahore and Sargoda, among others, military installations like cantonments have come under attack, according to pictures and videos posted on Twitter.
In Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, a monument that replicates the Chaghai mountains - where Pakistan conducted its nuclear tests - ?as set on fire by protestors. To control the mob, police fired tear gas shells, according to social media.