Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is also the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, has called for peaceful protests against what he describes as a threat to the sanctity of the Supreme Court and the Constitution of Pakistan. In a Twitter post on Monday, Khan condemned the recent arrests of PTI workers and protestors in the aftermath of his arrest and subsequent rioting. He alleged that the arrests were made without any investigation into the arson on a government building or the deaths of unarmed protesters by bullet wounds.
Khan further accused the country’s security forces of colluding with the federal government in what he described as subversion of the Constitution. He shared clips of people climbing over a gate and entering the Red Zone at the Pakistan Democratic Movement’s (PDM) protest outside the Supreme Court (SC) on his social media account. On May 9, 2023, troops of paramilitary Rangers had arrested Imran Khan from the Islamabad High Court (IHC) premises in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case.
The arrest had brought the country to a standstill, with the government shutting off mobile internet services and restricting public access to information in retaliation to widespread protests across major cities. The apparent dismissal of proper procedure when dealing with an accused and the involvement of the country’s paramilitary forces had also garnered international attention, with global media outlets pointing at escalating tensions between the deposed prime minister and the incumbent civil-military relationships. Pakistan’s already flailing economy had taken further hits in the aftermath of the arrest given the political uncertainty and suspension of internet services.
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Scores of people took to the streets in protest against Imran’s arrests highlighting once again his position as a popular leader. Several of them had barged into crucial military buildings as well as residential areas in retaliation. The previous week also saw arrests of prominent PTI leaders such as Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, and Yasmin Rashid. Some of the PTI leadership remained under arrest.
The political turmoil has yet to subside with tensions running high between the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) led federal government, its allies united under the Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) banner, and the PTI. Hundreds of PTI workers and supporters have been rounded up in the aftermath of Imran’s release. The situation remains fluid, with the future of Pakistan’s political landscape uncertain.