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Pakistan Army Called Upon to Stem Riots After Former Leader Khan’s Arrest

Victor Westerkamp
Victor resides in the Netherlands and writes about freedom and governmental and social changes to the democratic form of nations.
Published: May 11, 2023
Supporters of Pakistan's former Prime Minister Imran Khan participate in a protest against his arrest, in Peshawar, Pakistan, May 9, 2023. The government called upon the military to stem the violent uproars. (Image: FAYAZ AZIZ/Reuters)

The government of Pakistan has called on the military to end the deadly riots and disturbances that flared up following the arrest on May 9 of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

They warned the protesters not to carry out further attacks on government institutions.

The administration had stated Wednesday, May 10, that it had approved to deploy troops in two provinces, Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, both Khan strongholds, and the nation’s largest city, Karachi.

Hammad Azhar, an aide of Khan and a former minister in his cabinet, called for supporters to come out to the streets in a video message released by his party.

“Today, the leader of the Islamic world was arrested, and information is coming that he was tortured during the arrest,” Azhar said. “This [arrest] is unacceptable in any conditions, and Imran Khan is our red line.” 


“Imran Khan is a brave and honest leader of the Islamic world. He has not committed a crime, he has not looted any money, and he has not fled to any country. Today, I call upon the entire Pakistani people and the workers of PTI to come out on the street,” he added. 

The army issued a statement saying that it had earlier exercised restraint against the protesters but that it will now go full steam ahead in fighting the unrest and would not tolerate any further encroachment on the army or government buildings and property. The military added that such actions would be punished with severe repressions.

Khan, a cricket legend, still enjoys wide popularity among the people. However, the draconian economic sanctions he imposed on his people led to decades of continuing sky-high inflation, a limping economy, and the worst crisis in years, which led to his forced resignation last April to keep his creditors at the IMF at peace.

Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency (NAB) issued Khan’s arrest warrant and summoned him to appear before the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told Reporters that Khan had been arrested at the instigation of the Bureau after he failed to appear several times in response to summonses.

Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan.

Trespassing of Pakistan’s Supreme Court’s grounds

However, shortly after his arrival, some paramilitary forces and personnel contingents appeared in riot gear. They besieged the courtroom where Khan was waiting. 

Dramatic film footage released shows a sunglasses-wearing Khan sitting calmly waiting behind a desk while paramilitary forces rush in to arrest him and take him by the arm and carry him off in a black truck, local television station GEO TV reported.

Khan’s lawyer claimed his client was attacked and sprayed with a substance, during which he nearly lost consciousness. Another lawyer on Khan’s team appeared to have been injured in the head amid the scuffle which ensued during the arrest.

A high court in Islamabad has summoned authorities to come up with an explanation as to why Khan was arrested in the Supreme Court territory.

Money laundering probe

Khan’s arrest came a day after the powerful Pakistani army, which does not usually intervene in political conflicts, had retaliated against him regarding repeated allegations Khan had made against a senior army officer. Khan accused the officer of being the mastermind behind a failed attempt on his life and of being the evil genius that led to Khan’s removal from the premiership.

The NAB issued the arrest warrant on May 1 concerning a bribery investigation against Khan that includes more than 1,000 charges against him since he was removed from office in a parliamentary vote last April.

The Interior Minister said the charges against Khan alleged he and his wife had received land worth up to 7 billion rupees ($24.70 million) from a land developer charged with money laundering by British authorities.

He added that British authorities had returned 190 million pounds ($240 million) to Pakistan concerning money laundering, which Khan then returned to the land developer instead of keeping it in the national exchequer.

Khan has already served four years of his 5-year prison sentence in connection with previous convictions.

Reuters contributed to this report.