More skirmishes with security officers were feared on Wednesday as Imran Khan’s (IK) supporters planned to march to Islamabad, where the former Pakistani prime minister is being held in connection with a corruption investigation.
Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook were all down, and mobile data services in the country were also shut down. The violence that broke out on Tuesday received toned-down broadcast on television.
After violent clashes broke out between Khan’s followers and police, authorities in three of Pakistan’s four provinces issued an emergency order banning all gatherings.
On Tuesday, IK was taken into custody by Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency from the Islamabad High Court. The police guest house where he is being kept has been designated as the location of his court appearance.
IK had been regularly accusing a senior military official of trying to plot his assassination and the former armed forces head of being behind his fall from power last year, which led to a rebuke from the country’s strong military the day before his detention.
IK supporters clashed with police before deciding to march
IK’s followers reportedly clashed with police in various towns and stormed military installations in Lahore and Rawalpindi in response to the “shutdown” call issued by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party.
The party tweeted early Wednesday that its supporters in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa should meet in the city of Swabi before heading to Islamabad in a convoy.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi stated that the party’s top leadership was in Islamabad to meet with Khan and will appeal the Islamabad High Court’s ruling that Khan’s arrest was valid to the Supreme Court.
With this unconstitutional behavior, we continue to call PTI family workers, supporters, and the people of Pakistan onto the streets for peaceful protest,” Qureshi stated on Twitter.
According to to news report, a police official in the Islamabad police lines region said on Wednesday that Khan will not be transported to court for his scheduled hearing.
Provincial home minister Ziaullah Langove stated that one person was murdered and 12 people were injured, including six police officers, in skirmishes on Tuesday in the southern city of Quetta.
IK, 70 at the time, was a cricket hero turned politician who was removed from office in a vote of no confidence in April 2022. Despite being wounded in an attack on his vehicle as he led a protest march to Islamabad seeking for early general elections in November, Khan has not paused his campaign against the removal.
His detention coincides with the worst economic crisis Pakistan has seen in decades, with inflation at record highs and growth at record lows. It has taken months for the International Monetary Fund to approve a rescue package, despite the fact that the country has only enough foreign currency on hand to pay for imports for one month.
Since Khan’s dismissal four years ago, more than a hundred corruption cases have been filed against him. With a national election planned for November, a conviction for Khan would likely exclude him from running for office.
Despite the fact that the military has ruled Pakistan for almost half of the country’s history, political infighting is commonplace there.
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