Pakistan braced for fresh unrest a day after former Prime Minister Imran Khan arrest. His supporters battled with police around the country after he detained from court. The 71-year-old opposition leader is scheduled to appear in court later Wednesday for a hearing on holding Khan in custody for up to 14 days.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party urged protesters to remain peaceful. Hours after, rioters enraged by the dramatic mid-trial arrest set fire to the home of a key army general in the eastern city of Lahore.
Khan was appearing in court on several graft accusations brought by Islamabad police on Tuesday. When scores of National Accountability Bureau officials backed by paramilitary personnel rushed the courthouse. Destroying windows after Khan’s guards refused to unlock the door.
The arrest of Imran Khan exacerbated political unrest and provoked violent protests. In which at least one person was killed in the southern city of Quetta and others were injured across the country.
Pakistan Under Siege
Khan’s supporters stormed the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad. But failed to reach the main building, which houses the offices of army chief Gen. Asim Munir. Other protesters attempted to reach the prime minister’s mansion in Lahore. But were forced away by police officers with batons. Others stormed troop transport vehicles and beat armed soldiers with sticks. So yet, no police or soldiers have opened fire on protestors.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Khan’s party’s senior vice president, urged peaceful protests on Wednesday. Asking “don’t damage public property, don’t attack offices, as we are peace lovers.” According to Qureshi, the party is mulling a Supreme Court challenge to the arrest. “I urge our party members to continue peaceful protests, but do not, and do not, attack public property.”
On Wednesday morning, authorities reported that at least 2,000 demonstrators remained encircling Lt. Gen. Salman Fayyaz Ghani’s fire-damaged mansion, singing slogans such as “Khan is our red line, and you have crossed it.” When a mob besieged Ghani’s large residence on Tuesday, he and his family were promptly relocated to a safer location.
Police officers were deployed around the country, and shipping containers were placed on a route leading to the massive police compound in Islamabad where Khan is being kept. According to a government notice, Khan will appear before a judge in the same enclosure later today, in a temporary court set up for security reasons.