Pakistan deploys army to quell riots over ex-PM Khan's arrest


Published: 2023-05-11 12:13

Last Updated: 2024-06-08 01:26

Pakistan deploys army to quell riots over ex-PM Khan's arrest
Pakistan deploys army to quell riots over ex-PM Khan's arrest

Troops were deployed in Pakistan's capital on Thursday after the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan triggered two days of violent protests by his supporters, AFP reported.

Khan was remanded in custody for eight days on corruption charges on Wednesday, following months of the political crisis that saw the ousted leader wage a campaign of defiance against the powerful military.

Khan's arrest has enraged supporters of his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, who have clashed with security forces in several cities and marched up to the headquarters of the army.

Khan's supporters accuse the military of having orchestrated Khan's ouster in April last year. The military denies any involvement.

"If they think that the arrest of Imran Khan will demoralize us, then they are hugely mistaken," said protester Niaz Ali on Wednesday in Peshawar, where several monuments and government buildings were torched.

"We stand with Imran Khan and will support him till death."

At least seven officials from PTI's central leadership were arrested and detained, accused of orchestrating the protests, Islamabad police said early Thursday.

The government on Wednesday approved the deployment of the army in two provinces -- including Punjab, the most populous -- and in the capital to restore peace.

Islamabad police said troops had already entered the capital's sensitive "red zone" where government buildings are housed.

At least six people have died in protest-related incidents, police and hospitals reported.

Hundreds of police officers have been injured and more than 2,000 people have been arrested across the country, mostly in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, police forces reported.

The interior ministry has ordered mobile internet services cut and restricted access to social media sites Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, Pakistan's communications agency said.

Authorities have also ordered schools closed nationwide –- with year-end exams cancelled.

Khan appeared in a specially convened graft court on Wednesday, which remanded him for eight days following a request by Pakistan's top anti-corruption agency, Ali Bukhari, one of his lawyers, told AFP.