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Former Pakistan PM Imran Khan arrested, aides call for nationwide protest

2023-05-09T11:18:09Z

Pakistan security forces arrested former Prime Minister Imran Khan at Islamabad High Court on Tuesday, his aides said, in a dramatic move that threatens fresh turmoil in the nuclear-armed country. Geo TV reported that cricketer-turned-politician Khan was arrested in connection with a corruption case.

Pakistan’s anti-graft watchdog arrested former Prime Minister Imran Khan at Islamabad High Court on Tuesday, in a dramatic move that threatens fresh turmoil in the nuclear-armed country.

Footage of the arrest showed scores of security personnel in riot-control gear whisking Khan away in a van as Khan’s party called for protests across the country.

“Pakistan’s people, this is the time to save your country. You won’t get any other opportunity,” the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party wrote on Twitter.

The arrest comes at a time when ordinary Pakistanis are reeling from the worst economic crisis in decades, with record high inflation and anaemic growth.

An International Monetary Fund bailout package has been delayed for months even though foreign exchange reserves are barely enough to cover a month’s imports

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that Khan was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after he did not appear before it “despite notices”.

The NAB had issued Khan’s arrest warrants on May 1, according to an order seen by Reuters. “Khan is accused of commission of the offence of corruption and corrupt practices,” it said.

Khan’s graft case is one of over 100 registered against him since he was ousted from power in a parliamentary vote in April last year. He served four of his five-year term.

In most of the cases, Khan faces being barred from holding public office if convicted, with a national election scheduled for November.

Previous attempts to arrest Khan from his Lahore home resulted in heavy clashes between his supporters and law enforcement personnel.

Political infighting is common in Pakistan, where no prime minister has yet fulfilled a full term and where the military has ruled for nearly half of the country’s history.

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FILE PHOTO-Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, gestures as he speaks with Reuters during an interview, in Lahore, Pakistan March 17, 2023. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

Pakistan security forces guard a vehicle carrying former Prime Minister Imran Khan after his arrest at a court in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 9, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan gestures in a video statement, at an unknown location in Pakistan, in this screen grab obtained from a social media video released on May 9, 2023. Imran Khan via Twitter/via REUTERS

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan sits in a wheelchair as his private security guards use shields to guard him upon his arrival to appear at a court in Islamabad, Pakistan, May 9, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.