In a significant development, Pakistan’s Supreme Court has declared the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan in a corruption case as unlawful. Khan’s legal team challenged the detention, leading to the court’s order for his immediate release. The decision provides major relief for the chairman of the Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
The three-member bench of the court deemed Khan’s arrest illegal after hearing the petition earlier in the day. Furthermore, the court instructed the authorities to bring Khan to court within an hour. The sudden arrest of Khan had sparked violent protests throughout the country, leading the government to deploy the army to restore order.
The aftermath of Khan’s arrest saw the authorities apprehending several senior leaders of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, including a former foreign minister who served during Khan’s premiership from 2018 to 2022. The situation escalated with clashes between Khan’s supporters and the police, resulting in 11 fatalities, dozens of injuries, and numerous arrests.
PTI supporters resorted to attacking military establishments and setting state buildings and assets on fire. As tensions remained high, paramilitary troops and police were deployed on the streets of major cities. Mobile data services were suspended, and schools and offices remained closed in two of Pakistan’s four provinces. Additionally, access to social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram was blocked.
The arrest of Imran Khan, a renowned cricket hero-turned-politician and Pakistan’s most popular leader according to polls, has further destabilized the nuclear-armed country. Pakistan is already grappling with a severe economic crisis, and this development exacerbates the prevailing instability.
Currently under an eight-day remand by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), Khan was also indicted on Wednesday in another corruption case related to the alleged illegal sale of state gifts during his tenure as prime minister. The government has registered over 100 police cases against Khan since his removal from power in April 2022, following a confidence vote in parliament.
In response to the protests, rights groups have urged the Pakistani government to exercise restraint and restore internet services. Patricia Gossman, associate Asia director at Human Rights Watch, emphasized the need for upholding the right to peaceful protest while using the minimum force necessary to address violence.
Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi, a senior PTI leader, expressed alarm and deep concern over the situation in the country. While acknowledging the constitutional right to protest, he condemned the damage caused to public property, particularly government and military buildings, by some individuals.
It is important to note that the Pakistani government has taken measures to control the media and suspend internet access to prevent protests against the illegal arrest of Imran Khan. The resulting disruption and the inefficiency of the current government have paralyzed the normal functioning of life in the country.
As the situation unfolds, Pakistan faces critical challenges in ensuring stability, addressing economic issues, and upholding democratic values and human rights.
By: Mr. WWK