Following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was dragged from a courtroom and ordered held for another eight days on new corruption charges that outraged his supporters and deepened the country’s political turmoil. Pakistan’s government called in the military on Wednesday in areas roiled by deadly violence.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif stated in a speech to the nation that Khan’s followers’ turmoil “damaged sensitive public and private property.” Causing him to deploy the military in Islamabad, Punjab’s most populous province, and volatile northwest regions.
Following arrest of Imran Khan on Tuesday, protesters in Islamabad and other major cities blocked roads. Battled with police, and set fire to police checkpoints and military facilities, resulting in six deaths and hundreds of arrests. Protesters attacked a radio station in the northwest city of Peshawar on Wednesday.
“Such scenes were never seen by the people of Pakistan,” Sharif stated after a Cabinet meeting. “Even patients were taken out of ambulances, and ambulances were set on fire.”
He called such actions “unforgivable,” and warned that anybody who participated in violence would face exemplary punishment.
Sharif stated that Khan was detained due to his involvement in corruption and that there was proof to back up these allegations.
Khan, who was deposed by Sharif in a no-confidence vote last year, is being kept at an Islamabad police facility. A judge in the city’s interim court ordered the 70-year-old politician imprisoned for at least another eight days. Raising the potential of further turmoil.
Pakistan into “civil war”- Military
The military also issued a sharply worded statement, threatening anybody attempting to drag Pakistan into a “civil war.” The organised attacks on its installations were described as a “black chapter” in the country’s political history.
“What the country’s eternal enemy could not do for 75 years. This group, wearing a political cloak, in the lust for power, has done,” the statement read. Adding that forces had displayed restraint but would respond to any more attacks, and those involved would bear responsibility.
It stated that “strict action” would be taken against individuals who planned or participated in attacks on military installations. It did not specifically mention Khan in its remarks.
Khan’s dramatic arrest on Tuesday — he was dragged from a hearing in Islamabad’s High Court on one set of charges, only to be arrested on another — was the latest clash to engulf Pakistan. He is the seventh previous prime minister to be detained in the country, which has also seen military involvement over the years. The action comes at a time when the cash-strapped country is attempting to avoid default.
Khan appeared in Islamabad on various graft charges made by police. As he entered, the courtroom was attacked by dozens of anti-corruption agents backed by paramilitary personnel from the National Accountability Bureau. After Khan’s guards refused to open the door, they smashed the windows.
The former cricketer has described the proceedings against him, which include corruption and terrorist charges, as a politically driven scheme by his successor, Nawaz Sharif, to prevent him from regaining power in elections later this year.