Violent Clashes Erupt in Pakistan as Former PM Imran Khan Arrested, Sparking Protests and Concerns for Rule of Law

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Violent clashes have erupted in Pakistan following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, triggering nationwide protests and concerns about the adherence to the rule of law. The arrest took place at the High Court in Islamabad, where dramatic footage captured the 70-year-old being detained by security forces and driven away in a vehicle. Imran Khan, who was appearing in court on corruption charges that he claims are politically motivated, has been a vocal critic of the military despite allegations of their support in his election win in 2018.

The protests quickly spread across the country, with mobile data services suspended on the instructions of the interior ministry as demonstrations intensified. The Pakistan army, which wields significant influence in politics, has faced a decline in popularity, and Imran Khan’s arrest further fueled tensions between his supporters and security forces. Reports of violence emerged from various cities, including Lahore, Karachi, and Peshawar, with protesters vandalizing military compounds and engaging in confrontations with authorities.

The United States and the United Kingdom called for the rule of law to be upheld in Pakistan, emphasizing their longstanding relationships with the country as Commonwealth members. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stressed the importance of ensuring that developments in Pakistan align with the constitution and the rule of law. Imran Khan’s arrest has also prompted protests outside the Pakistan High Commission in London.

Imran Khan’s spokesman expressed concerns that his arrest could lead to chaos and anarchy, exacerbating the existing economic, political, and livelihood crises in the country. Claims of undue force were made by a member of Khan’s legal team, alleging mistreatment during the arrest. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, led by Imran Khan, urged its supporters to protest, resulting in clashes with security forces, injuries, and arrests.

The arrest stems from corruption allegations related to the allotment of land in the Al-Qadir Trust owned by Imran Khan and his wife. However, Imran Khan denies any wrongdoing and remains held at an undisclosed location. This latest development adds to the numerous legal challenges faced by the former prime minister since his ousting from power in 2022. Despite his previous tenure as the country’s leader, Imran Khan’s strained relationship with the army and political rivalries have contributed to his downfall and opposition role.

As Pakistan faces a polarized political landscape and increasing unrest, the arrest of Imran Khan has deepened divisions within the country. The situation highlights the need for a peaceful resolution and a careful balance between the rule of law, political stability, and addressing the pressing challenges faced by Pakistan’s society.