Protests have erupted throughout Pakistan following the arrest of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, who was appearing before the Islamabad High Court to address multiple pending cases since his ousting last year. In response, police utilized tear gas and water cannons to disperse demonstrators in Karachi, Lahore, and Faisalabad, while protesters blocked roads in Islamabad, Peshawar, and other cities.
PTI supporters damaged public property and set police vehicles ablaze in several cities after the party called for a nationwide “shutdown” in light of Khan’s arrest. The PTI tweeted, urging Pakistanis to stand up for Khan, who has always supported them.
Previous attempts to arrest Khan at his Lahore residence resulted in violent clashes between his supporters and law enforcement officers. Since his removal from power, Khan has faced numerous charges, which analysts believe are tactics used by successive Pakistani governments to silence opposition.
Convictions could potentially bar Khan from holding public office and participating in upcoming elections. Local TV channels aired footage of Khan, who has had a noticeable limp since an assassination attempt last year, being forcibly placed into an armored vehicle by Rangers on the Islamabad High Court grounds.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi announced a meeting of the central leadership and emergency committee members to discuss the party’s future actions in light of Khan’s arrest. The committee consists of PTI leaders Saifullah Niazi, Azam Swati, Ijaz Chaudhary, Murad Saeed, Ali Amin Gandapur, and Qureshi. They will continue their legal and political fight with full determination, according to Qureshi, who also condemned the “attack” on the Islamabad High Court and the alleged mistreatment of Khan during his arrest.