Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan has appeared in court docket to reply corruption expenses, a day after he was dramatically arrested by paramilitary troops, sparking lethal clashes.
The cost pertains to the sale of presents despatched to him by overseas leaders whereas in workplace. His lawyer instructed CNN Khan rejects the indictment.
Khan has alleged he was “tortured and overwhelmed all evening” whereas in detention, his lawyer instructed CNN, including that the previous chief had “bruises on his head” when he met him on the court docket listening to.
Khan was arrested on Tuesday in one other corruption case, the place he’s accused of the unlawful acquisition of land and development for a college.
His arrest has turbocharged an already tense showdown between the nation’s highly effective army and his supporters, who hit the streets and sparked unprecedented scenes as indignant crowds broke into and vandalized the houses of military personnel.
Three of his supporters died in clashes within the metropolis of Peshawar and practically 30 others have been injured, a hospital spokesperson mentioned.
Clashes continued Wednesday with a whole lot of Khan’s supporters storming the headquarters of the nationwide broadcaster Radio Pakistan in Peshawar, in keeping with a CNN journalist on the scene.
Pictures from Peshawar’s streets confirmed safety forces firing teargas at crowds, a few of whom used slingshots.
Police mentioned practically 1,000 Khan supporters had been arrested in Punjab province after 25 police autos and greater than 14 authorities buildings have been set on hearth, Reuters reported.
Authorities in three of Pakistan’s 4 provinces have additionally imposed an emergency order banning all gatherings, Reuters added.
Ahsan Iqbal, Pakistan’s minister for planning and improvement, instructed reporters on Wednesday that Khan had “chosen a path of spreading anarchy, chaos and destruction” to “shield himself from accountability.”
“I wish to guarantee there is no such thing as a political vendetta,” he added.
Wednesday’s listening to passed off within the police station relatively than a court docket to “maintain him away from the general public”, police mentioned.
Video earlier than Khan’s arrest on Tuesday confirmed paramilitary forces breaking a window to get to the politician as he watched impassively on the unfolding chaos. Khan was then led right into a automobile surrounded by dozens of safety officers and escorted away.
In a pre-recorded assertion launched on YouTube by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) political get together after his arrest, the previous prime minister mentioned he was “detained on incorrect expenses” and instructed his supporters “the time has come for all of you to return and wrestle in your rights.”
“I’ve at all times adopted the legislation. I’m being apprehended in order that I can’t comply with my political path for this nation’s elementary rights and for me to obey this corrupt authorities of crooks which has been hoisted on us,” he mentioned within the video.
Violent protests broke out in a number of cities that afternoon.
Khan supporters armed with sticks broke into the army’s headquarters within the metropolis of Rawalpindi, simply exterior the capital, chanting in help of the previous chief.
Protesters additionally blocked one of many most important thoroughfares into Islamabad, throwing stones and knocking down avenue indicators. A police automobile was set ablaze, leading to police retaliating with tear fuel.
In the meantime, within the southwestern metropolis of Quetta, a Khan supporter was shot and killed by police at a protest, in keeping with a CNN journalist on the scene.
Authorities blocked cell web companies shortly after in a bid to quell the chaos, disrupting entry to Twitter, Fb and YouTube within the nation of 270 million. Personal faculties throughout the nation have been ordered shut on Wednesday, in keeping with the Personal Colleges Affiliation.
At the very least 43 protesters have been arrested in Islamabad Tuesday, the town’s police mentioned on Twitter.
Syed Baqir Sajjad, a Pakistan Fellow on the Wilson Middle in Washington, mentioned that though earlier Pakistani leaders had confronted arrest, and politicians had prior to now challenged the army’s dominance, Khan’s important public help made this example “distinctive.”
“The dangers confronted by Pakistan on this state of affairs are quite a few,” he mentioned. “The army’s picture as a unifying drive and the guardian of the state has been critically challenged, which has led to a lack of public belief within the establishment. This, in flip, may result in instability and social unrest.”
Khan was ousted in a parliamentary no-confidence vote final 12 months and has since led a well-liked marketing campaign in opposition to the present authorities led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, accusing it of colluding with the army to take away him from workplace.
The previous star cricketer turned populist politician denies the costs leveled in opposition to him, as an alternative accusing Sharif and the army of taking part in a political sport. The army and Sharif – who was just lately in the UK after attending the coronation of the British monarch – deny Khan’s accusations.
The tensions have introduced Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation of some 220 million those who has for many years grappled with political instability, into unknown territory and have typically boiled over into violence.
Final November, Khan survived a capturing at a political rally, in what his get together referred to as an assassination try.
And in March, chaos erupted exterior Khan’s Lahore dwelling after a whole lot of his supporters challenged police and paramilitary troops who had arrived to escort him away. Officers have been compelled to droop the operation after protests turned violent – certainly one of a number of unsuccessful makes an attempt by police to arrest Khan.
Khan’s claims have struck a chord with a younger inhabitants in a rustic the place anti-establishment emotions are frequent, and are being fueled by a rising value of residing disaster as hovering inflation makes peculiar items more and more unaffordable.
“This has put elevated strain on the army institution, which is feeling the warmth extra this time,” mentioned Sajjad. “The depth and consistency of Imran Khan’s assaults on the army, particularly after being ousted from workplace final 12 months, are unprecedented.”
Amid the disaster, the federal government has to this point failed to succeed in an settlement with the Worldwide Financial Fund to restart a $6.5 billion mortgage program that has stalled since November, in an effort to maintain the financial system afloat.
The political upheaval seems to have bolstered Khan’s reputation. Final 12 months, his PTI get together gained native elections within the nation’s most populous Punjab province, seen as a litmus take a look at for nationwide elections.
The political polarization and financial disaster had positioned Pakistan at “a important juncture,” and the state of affairs had the “potential to turn out to be a everlasting disaster,” Sajjad mentioned.
Pakistan’s future trajectory “will largely depend upon how its leaders navigate the continuing crises and whether or not they can discover a method to deal with the individuals’s grievances and restore stability,” he added.