Why are people protesting in Pakistan? Former PM Imran Khan arrested by paramilitary forces
Pakistan paramilitary forces arrested the country’s former prime minister Imran Khan on Tuesday, May 9.
The dramatic scene in Islamabad involved dozens of officers arriving at the High Court, before detaining the 70-year-old and driving him away. Khan was in court to face corruption charges.
Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in April 2022. He has claimed this was illegal and a Western conspiracy. Since then, he has campaigned against the government of his successor as prime minister, Shahbaz Sharif, and demanded early elections.
Thousands have taken to the streets across places such as the capital Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Peshawar in protest against his arrest.
پوری قوم کا فوری مطالبہ !!#ReleaseImranKhan pic.twitter.com/By4jte1OvV
— PTI (@PTIofficial) May 9, 2023
Police forces have used water cannons and tear gas to control crowds of protesters. At least one person had, at the time of writing, died in the aftermath of the protests. This was a worker for Khan’s political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who was killed in Quetta. The former Pakistan cricket captain Khan formed the party in 1996.
The police have also suffered from the disorder, according to Islamabad authorities. They said on social media that five officers had been injured.
Activists have blocked the main Kashmir Highway, suspending traffic on both sides of the road. They have also pulled down street signs and thrown stones.
Footage from Lahore posted on Twitter appears to show a crowd raiding the Corps Commander’s House, according to the BBC.
Nobody in Lahore Corps Commander's House ? No security? https://t.co/5fzXzaFX6S
— Tango (@dhairya_c31) May 9, 2023
The United States and UK have called for adherence to the “rule of law”. Speaking about the situation during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs), British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: “The arrest of the former prime minister is an internal matter for Pakistan.
“We support peaceful democratic processes and adherence to the rule of law and we are monitoring the situation carefully.”
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he wanted to make sure that “whatever happens in Pakistan is consistent with the rule of law, with the constitution”.