• Pakistan now state with no democracy or civilian rule: PTI vice president Shireen Mazari
Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan’s life is “seriously in danger”, his party told The National hours after its leader’s arrest in Islamabad.
Mr Khan, who leads the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, was appearing in connection with a corruption case when officers from the country’s feared paramilitary forces stormed Islamabad’s High Court, allegedly beating Mr Khan before taking him away in a van.
The paramilitary said he was the subject of an arrest warrant issued by Pakistan’s anti-corruption force, the National Accountability Bureau.
“Imran Khan was abducted by paramilitary forces who broke into the high court. They abducted him when he came to appear before the court,” said PTI vice president Shireen Mazari.
“The paramilitary decided they would kidnap and torture Imran. His life is now seriously in danger. There is no rule of law in Pakistan. Might is right and this abduction shows where Pakistan stands today as a state with no democracy or civilian rule.”
Since he was removed from power in April 2022 after losing a no-confidence vote, Mr Khan has faced at least 120 criminal charges.
The former international cricket captain claims the charges are politically motivated and an attempt by the country’s establishment — led by its military and intelligence services — to stop him returning to power in a general election scheduled to take place in autumn.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Khan released a video from an unknown location in which he claimed the country’s establishment would try to arrest him later in the day.
My reply to ISPR & attempts by PDM & their handlers to arrest me for two reasons: 1. To prevent me from campaigning bec InshaAllah when elections are announced I will be doing jalsas. 2. To prevent me from mobilising the masses for street movement in support of Constitution if… pic.twitter.com/IQIQmFERah
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) May 9, 2023
Mr Khan was appearing in court in Islamabad in an anti-corruption case. He, his wife Bushra Bibi, and other PTI leaders were accused of profiting from a settlement with a property tycoon over the establishment of Al Qadir University while he was in power.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rana Sanaullah, told reporters that Mr Khan had been arrested by the NAB because he had previously ignored court summons in the case.
Anti-corruption officials from the NAB said Mr Khan would appear before a tribunal later on Tuesday.
Protests have been reported across Pakistan, including in the cities of Karachi and Lahore, in response to Mr Khan’s arrest. A ban on public gatherings was immediately passed in Islamabad.
“There is now going to be unrest and sporadic violence in Pakistan, as his support base is large in urban areas,” said Dr Qaiser Bengali, one of Pakistan’s leading political and economic analysts.
“I am not an Imran Khan supporter but to the point of rule of law this is a very deplorable and disturbing action.”
It breaks my heart to watch Imran Khan's being beaten and dragged on the ground! If the puppets of the external powers had been successful in Türkiye, the same thing would have happened to Erdoğan here. May Allah protect Türkiye and Pakistan. 🤲
— Turgay Evren (@TurgayEvren1) May 9, 2023
The PTI has instructed its supporters to take to the streets. “Pakistan’s people, this is the time to save your country. You won’t get any other opportunity,” it wrote on Twitter.
PTI official Hammad Azhar described Mr Khan’s arrest as a “red line” and called on Pakistanis to protest, en masse, against the former international cricket captain’s detention.
Mr Khan has already been issued with several arrest warrants. In March, police were prevented from storming his home in Lahore after by supporters who blocked their entry.
In November, he survived an assassination attempt when he was shot four times in the legs during a political rally in the city of Wazirabad. Mr Khan claimed the establishment was behind the attack.
“I think what has happened is that the police had failed to arrest Mr Khan themselves and so the army have got frustrated and decided to do it themselves,” adds Dr Bengali.
“I always thought they would arrest him this way. At his residence in Lahore he is protected by his supporters but at the court in Islamabad he is helpless. He can’t take his supporters inside.”
When Mr Khan was elected in 2018 he openly benefited from establishment support but he fell out spectacularly with the military and intelligence services before he was forced out of his job.
Since he was removed from power, Mr Khan has ridden a growing wave of popular support in Pakistan and looked set for re-election in the autumn, seemingly against the establishment’s wishes.
SUPPORT MUSLIM NEWS NIGERIA
With your generous financial contributions to MUSLIM NEWS, you are helping to sustain a culture of journalistic integrity that promotes tranquil Islamic values and ensures it remains free and available to all.
Rawshield PR Company
Guaranty Trust Bank