Pakistani Imran Khan addresses Supreme Court against military deployment
Calling it “undeclared martial law”, former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday addressed the Supreme Court against the deployment of armed forces in parts of the country, asking it to call the decision unconstitutional.
The army has been deployed in the provinces of Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as well as in the capital Islamabad due to violence following the controversial arrest of Khan on May 9.
His brief detention, which was later declared illegal, sparked protests from his supporters and attacks on state and military installations.
Since then, thousands of suspects, including senior PTI leaders, have been arrested, and the military has said it will try the rioters under military law.
Besides presenter Imran Riaz Khan, his colleague and senior journalist Sami Ibrahim has also been arrested and reported missing since Wednesday, according to colleagues and family members.
Under pressure to speak out against the violence, a number of former parliamentarians and leaders left Khan’s party or politics.
The beleaguered former Prime Minister has called for arrests, investigations and trials under the Army Act 1952 to be ‘equivalent to the denial’ of the Constitution, the rule of law and the independence of the judicial authority.
He said arrests of his party’s members, supporters and workers under the Maintenance of Public Order Act are “unlawful” and that all those detained should be released.
Khan, who also challenged the deployment of troops to civilian areas earlier this week, also called for a judicial commission to investigate the incidents.
Since being removed from office, he has been campaigning for a snap general election, due to be held later this year.
Meanwhile, General Asim Munir, head of Pakistan’s army, addressing a ceremony marking Martyrs’ Reverence Day in Rawalpindi, said the nation ‘will not forgive or forget’ those involved in “the desecration of the memorials of the martyrs and the attack on their dignity”.
Separately, a Lahore anti-terrorism court ordered the police to hand over to the army 16 suspects arrested for vandalizing the house of the Lahore corps commander.
In addition to escalating political uncertainty, Pakistan faces a balance of payments crisis, severely depleted foreign exchange reserves and increasingly bleak external financing prospects.
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