Supporters storm army HQ, vandalise war memorials
India keeps close watch, tightens vigil along borders
Tribune News Service
New Delhi, May 9
Pakistan’s former PM Imran Khan was arrested and bundled into a prison van by paramilitary Rangers on Tuesday from the Islamabad High Court, leading to turmoil on the streets which witnessed unprecedented scenes of mobs storming the army headquarters in Rawalpindi and the Corps Commander’s residence in Lahore, besides vandalising war memorials.
The announcement of Section 144 in several cities for the next three days also failed to deter the mobs.
The arrest came a day after the army accused Khan of levelling baseless allegations against a senior ISI officer.
Treason, terror: Khan faces 121 cases
Imran is facing 121 cases in Pakistan, including that of treason and blasphemy and inciting violence and terrorism. At least 12 terror-related cases have been registered against him in Lahore and 14 in Faisalabad. Another 22 terror-related cases registered against Khan across the country. A court may indict him on May 10 in a case of ‘hiding’ proceeds from the sale of state gifts.
Visuals showed Imran, who had come for a hearing at the court, being dragged out of the record room in the judicial premises by the Rangers, who smashed windows to get at him. They then reportedly pinned him down and a massive posse hustled him into the van.
The HC later upheld the arrest, saying all legal formalities were fulfilled by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB). His party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), claimed he was abducted, but the NAB said he was arrested in a case of land transfer to property tycoon Malik Riaz. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said Khan, who earlier failed appear before the court despite several summons, was arrested for “causing loss to the national treasury”.
Khan was undergoing a biometric process at the court when the Rangers smashed the windows and arrested him. They also beat up lawyers and Khan’s security staff, alleged PTI leader Shireen Mazari. His arrest warrant, issued on May 1, said he was accused of corruption and corrupt practices.
Shortly before setting out for the court, Khan was prescient. “Till the time these words of mine reach you, I will be arrested in a baseless case. This shows that fundamental rights and democracy in Pakistan have been buried,” he said. The Dawn reported that Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Aamer Farooq had directed the police chief, the interior ministry secretary and the additional attorney general to appear before the court.
Meanwhile, the Indian Army has alerted its troops along the LoC and international borders. The security establishment is keeping a close watch on developments in the neighbouring country. The Pakistan army could try to create trouble along the borders to divert attention away from protests against the military.
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