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Imran Khan’s Arrest Triggers Massive Protests in Pakistan; Supporters Storm Army HQ

Imran Khan’s Arrest Triggers Massive Protests in Pakistan; Supporters Storm Army HQ

Written by Sanjay Kumar

On Tuesday (May 9), a group of supporters of former Prime Minister Imran Khan entered the compound of the army commanders’ residence in Lahore to protest against his arrest. The media also showed footage of them storming the army headquarters in Rawalpindi. In addition, the Radio Pakistan building was set on fire in Peshawar. The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was arrested as he was entering the Islamabad High Court for a hearing in a case.

Protests by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters erupted throughout Pakistan shortly after his arrest, prompting prohibitory orders banning large gatherings in Islamabad. The Islamabad police warned, “Section 144 is in force and action will be taken in case of violation.”

According to Geo News, protests also started in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar, and Mardan. In Rawalpindi, Imran Khan’s supporters chanted slogans against the establishment and smashed the main gate of the army’s sprawling headquarters. Although the troops showed restraint.

During a demonstration in the Cantonment area of Lahore, a large number of PTI workers stormed into the residence of the Corps Commander and smashed the gate and window panes. The army personnel did not try to stop the protesters, who surrounded them and raised slogans against the ‘handlers’ of the PML-N led government in the military establishment.

Protesters in Karachi and Rawalpindi clashed with the police, who reportedly threw teargas shells to control the mob. Videos from the spot showed them chanting “Release Imran Khan” and “Shut down Pakistan” slogans.

The PTI urged its supporters to protest, tweeting that this was a “now or never opportunity.”

The arrest came a day after the army accused Mr. Khan of making baseless allegations against a senior officer of the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence. Mr. Khan had accused top ISI officer Major-General Faisal Naseer of being involved in the assassination attempt against him in Wazirabad and claimed that Major Naseer was involved in the murder of senior journalist Arshad Sharif.

Given the allegations and the army’s response, there have been questions about whether Mr. Khan’s dramatic arrest can only be attributed to the charges against him.

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