Pakistan's ex-PM Imran Khan arrested, sparking violence

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PUBLISHED 10 May 2023

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested and dragged from court Tuesday as  he appeared to face charges in multiple graft cases, a dramatic escalation of political tensions that sparked violent demonstrations by his angry supporters across the country.

The arrest of Khan, who was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022 but remains the leading opposition figure, represented the latest confrontation to roil Pakistan, which has  seen former prime ministers arrested over the years and interventions by its powerful military.

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 there, while about 15 injuries were reported amid similar violence in Karachi, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and  Lahore. Amid the violence, officials at Pakistan’s telecommunication authority said regulators  blocked social media, including Twitter, and internet service was suspended in the capital of Islamabad and other cities. Classes at some private schools were canceled for Wednesday.

Khan was removed from the 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 armored car and whisked away.

“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. The National Accountability Bureau is Pakistan’s powerful anti-corruption organization that  has detained and investigated former officials, including prime ministers, politicians and retired military officers.