Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who heads one of the country’s largest political parties, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was arrested on Tuesday at the Islamabad High Court by paramilitary force.
Khan was attending hearings for his bail applications concerning corruption cases against him, which he claims are politically motivated. The arrest comes amid increasing tensions between Khan and Pakistan’s army.
Clashes erupted in parts of Pakistan as police tried to repel supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, a day after he was arrested by the country’s anti-corruption agency https://t.co/IDcUmTG4rw pic.twitter.com/gqKL5yzpfp
— Reuters (@Reuters) May 10, 2023
Khan’s recent accusations that a senior military officer, Faisal Naseer, and the country’s current Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, were behind an assassination attempt against him last November had prompted a censure from the military.
On 8th May, the spokesperson of the military, General Ahmed Sharif, blamed Khan for creating a rift between the military and the people of Pakistan He warned of serious consequences, including arresting Khan, if he does not stop criticizing the military.
In response to the military’s statement, Khan insisted that he did not need to lie and that “this is my army and my Pakistan.” He also announced that he will happily go to the jail for the “real independence” of his country.
To demand Khan’s release, the PTI and his followers have called for the closure of Pakistan, the blocking of roadways, and the staging of mass rallies. Soon after the call from the party, thousands of its workers started demonstrations countrywide disrupting and blocking all the major highways of the country.
Khan, who remains enormously popular across the country of 230 million people, was deposed in April 2022 following a no-confidence vote by opposition MNAs who accused him of corruption and other conduct. The charges were supported by the Supreme Court of the country, which is accused of working on military command by PTI.
In October 2022, Pakistan’s election commission passed a ruling barring Khan from holding office again, sparking outrage among his many supporters, who claim foul play.
Soon after his ouster as PM of Pakistan, Khan and his allies alleged that the regime change was backed by the US who brought Shehbaz Sharif in his place. However, Washington refuted the allegations.
Even now, the White House has refrained from commenting on the ongoing political situation in Pakistan and has said that it is aware of Khan’s arrest but does not have a position on the matter and has referred further queries to the government of Pakistan.
Imran Khan’s legal troubles have only increased his popularity among his supporters, who believe he will make a comeback and become prime minister again in elections later this year. Some political observers believe he is a likely favorite.
The situation remains fluid and unpredictable, with Pakistan’s political landscape highly polarized. The authorities and all involved parties must work to ensure that the upcoming elections are free, fair, and transparent and that the rights of all candidates and voters are respected.
The international community, including Pakistan’s allies and partners, will be closely monitoring the situation, and providing support and assistance as needed to help ensure a peaceful and democratic process.