At least 5 dead as protesters clash with police Shooting and arson reported in several citiesCourt grants investigators custody of Khan for 8 daysEx-PM also charged in separate corruption case
ISLAMABAD, May 10 (Reuters) – Pakistan’s government on Wednesday appealed to the military to help end deadly unrest following the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan, warning protesters against any new attack on state facilities.
At least five people have died in violence that has deepened instability in the South Asian country of 220 million as it grapples with a severe economic crisis and a postponement of the International Monetary Fund bailout since November.
Khan – Pakistan’s most popular political leader according to polls – was arrested on Tuesday in a land fraud case, prompting his supporters to storm military buildings and ransack the residence of a top army general in the eastern city of Lahore.
Other state buildings and property were attacked and burned by protesters, and the government said on Wednesday it had approved demands from two of Pakistan’s four provinces – Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, two Khan strongholds. – and the federal capital Islamabad to deploy troops to restore command.
The military issued a statement saying it had exercised restraint in past violence, but that any further aggression against the military or state law enforcement, installations and property “will result in severe reprisals”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wants all parties in Pakistan to refrain from resorting to violence and insists on the need to respect the right to peaceful assembly, the deputy spokesman said on Wednesday in New York. of the UN, Farhan Haq.
António Guterres had also urged the Pakistani authorities to “respect due process and the rule of law in the proceedings” against Khan.
As protests raged in the streets, a Pakistani court released Khan, 70, into the custody of Pakistan’s anti-corruption body, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), for eight days for further questioning, it said. government adviser Ataullah Tarar.
The former international cricket star is currently being held in a police guest house in Islamabad.
Another court charged Khan earlier Wednesday with selling state gifts during his four years in office, a day after his arrest in the unrelated fraud case.
The indictment follows a ruling by the Election Commission of Pakistan in October that found Khan guilty of illegally selling state gifts between 2018 and 2022 and, therefore, barred him from holding public office. public functions until the next elections scheduled for November. He denied any wrongdoing.
Mohsin Shahnawaz Ranjha, a ruling coalition lawmaker who was a civil party in the case against Khan over state donations, accused him of putting “the peace of the country at stake”.
Khan’s colleagues from his Pakistani Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party did not immediately respond to a request for comment on his indictment. His legal team challenged his arrest in the Supreme Court.
Mobile data services were shut down for a second day on Wednesday as street protests continued, with federal ministers accusing Khan supporters of setting fire to several buildings and vehicles.
Police said they arrested more than 1,300 protesters for violence in Khan’s home province of Punjab.
Asad Umar, general secretary of Khan’s party and Fawad Chaudhry, one of Khan’s aides were also arrested.
More than 145 police officers were injured in clashes with protesters, police said in a statement.
Khan, a cricketing hero turned politician, was ousted as prime minister in April 2022 in a parliamentary vote of no confidence. He has not slowed down his campaign against the ousting even though he was injured in an attack on his convoy in November while leading a protest march to Islamabad calling for a snap general election.
The corruption cases are two of more than 100 registered against Khan after he left office. In most cases, Khan risks being barred from public office if found guilty.
KHAN FEUD WITH MILITARY
Khan was arrested a day after the mighty military reprimanded him for repeatedly accusing a senior officer of trying to engineer his assassination and the former armed forces chief of being behind his removal from power last year.
The military denied Khan’s allegations.
The armed forces remain Pakistan’s most powerful institution, having directly ruled it for almost half of its 75-year history through three coups. Despite his major influence, he recently declared that he no longer interferes in politics.
Amid the turmoil sparked by his arrest, Pakistanis are reeling from the worst economic crisis in decades, with record inflation and anemic growth, and the nuclear-armed country at risk of default unless he doesn’t receive massive support.
An IMF bailout has been delayed for more than six months, even though foreign exchange reserves are barely enough to cover a month’s imports.
Reporting by Gibran Naiyyar Peshimam, Asif Shahzad and Ariba Shahid; Written by Shivam Patel; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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