Islamabad: Former prime minister Imran Khan was arrested and bundled into a prison van by paramilitary Rangers on May 9 from the Islamabad High Court, sparking massive protests across Pakistan by his supporters.
The arrest of the 70-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician comes a day after the powerful army accused Khan of levelling baseless allegations against a senior officer of the spy agency ISI.
The chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), who travelled from Lahore to the federal capital Islamabad, was undergoing a biometric process at the court when the Rangers broke open the glass window and arrested him after beating lawyers and Khan’s security staff, according to senior party leader Shireen Mazari.
Imran Khan says he has been facing over 140 cases across the country related to terrorism, blasphemy, murder, violence, inciting to violence since his ouster through a no trust vote in April last year. He has rejected all these cases as political victimization by the ruling alliance. TV footage showed the Rangers grabbing Khan from the collar and bundling him into a prison van. The Rangers, which operate under the Interior Ministry, are usually commanded by officers on secondment from the army.
Interior Minister Sanaullah said that Khan failed to appear before the court despite being issued several notices. “The arrest has been conducted by the National Accountability Bureau for causing losses to the national treasury,” he said, adding that the former PM was not tortured.
Imran Khan, who came to power in 2018, is the only Pakistani Prime Minister to be ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament.
Khan’s arrest warrant, issued on May 1, said that he was accused of corruption and corrupt practice. In a late night development, the Islamabad High Court ruled that the arrest of Khan was legal, dashing hopes of his supporters about possibility of his quick release.
His arrest came a day after the powerful Pakistan Army slammed Khan for “highly irresponsible and baseless” allegations by him against a serving ISI officer without any evidence.