Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Pakistan court says ex-PM arrest legal; social media platforms blocked as one killed in protests

A court in Pakistan has ruled the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan legal. At least one person was killed after demonstrations broke out across the country following Khan’s arrest.

The arrest on Tuesday, as Khan appeared in court to face corruption allegations, is the latest twist in a months-long political crisis and follows several unsuccessful attempts to apprehend the cricketer-turned-politician.

Senior members of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party announced a six-member committee, formed by Khan in March over his fears of being arrested, will gather and decide the next move.

Earlier, authorities stated that Khan was arrested in connection with corruption involving the Al-Qadir University Trust, headed by the opposition leader and his wife Bushra Bibi.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan confirmed that Khan was arrested in a case pursued by the anti-corruption body.

PTI leaders have denied the charges levelled by the interior minister, saying Khan had not been issued any arrest warrant before Tuesday.

Khan has been slapped with more than 100 cases – including charges of corruption, “terrorism” and even blasphemy – since he was removed from power last April through a parliamentary no-confidence vote.

The 70-year-old denies the charges as politically motivated. He has also maintained that political parties joined forces with the country’s powerful military to remove him from power.

Video footage on social media shared by the PTI showed party supporters rioting in different cities of the country and setting vehicles and buildings on fire. Clips of PTI supporters vandalising the residence of Corp Commander in Lahore also went viral.

Meanwhile, at least one person was killed after protests broke out across the country following Khan’s arrest.

Police fired water cannon and tear gas as thousands of Khan’s supporters took to the streets in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and other cities.

Home Minister Meer Zia ullah Langau confirmed the death of a PTI supporter, adding that police officers were also injured in clashes with PTI supporters.

Pakistani authorities also restricted access to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms amid mounting violence in the country.

The Pakistani rupee fell 1.3 percent to a record low of 288.5 against the US dollar, a day after opposition leader Khan was arrested.

Pakistan’s international bonds nudged lower with the 2024 issue down 0.4 cents on the dollar, according to Tradeweb data.

The bonds trade at deeply distressed levels between 49 cents on the dollar for shorter-dated maturities while longer-dated ones changed hand at around 33 cents.

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