Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Secretary General Asad Umar + Protests in Pakistan
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Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Secretary General Asad Umar was arrested on Wednesday from Islamabad High Court premises by the Anti-Terrorist Squad of the Islamabad police. This came a day after PTI Chairman and former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested by Rangers outside the Islamabad High Court.

Umar was at the Bar Association Office with PTI leaders such as PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Senator Saifullah Sarwar Khan Nyazee and Ghulam Sarwar Khanalong to prepare to file a plea for a meeting with Khan.

Khan was arrested in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust Case, in which the Al-Qadir Trust run by Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi received Rs. 5 billion and hundreds of kanals of land from real estate firm Bahria Town as a “donation”. It was alleged that the money was sent in return for legalising a laundered amount of Rs. 50 billion and that the settlement between the two caused a loss of 190 million pounds to the national exchequer. 

Following Khan’s removal from power in last April, hundreds of cases have been filed against him, including charges of corruption and terrorism. Just hours before Khan’s arrest on Tuesday, an anti-terrorism court in Pakistan had approved his interim bail pleas in multiple cases.

Noting, among other things, that Khan’s arrest warrants were issued by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and that the investigating officer from NAB was present during the arrest, the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday night declared Khan’s arrest as legal. The court also issued show-cause notices to the interior secretary and Islamabad IG, and directed the court registrar to get an FIR registered over the circumstances of Imran’s arrest. Khan is likely to remain in NAB custody for 4-5 days.

During the court hearing for the same, Barrister Gohar Khan alleged that the former PM was “tortured” by the rangers and hit on the head and injured leg, and his wheelchair was tossed aside. Barrister Safdar added that the lawyers who came to assist him were also beaten up.

Following his arrest, PTI gave an immediate call for staging protests in the country. Largescale protests broke out in several cities such as Quetta, Karachi,  Gilgit, Peshawar, Rawalpindi and Lahore. PTI workers stormed the Corps Commanders’ residence in Lahore and the Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi. The protestors smashed into both establishments by breaking the front gates, and destroyed property such as furniture. The Corps Commanders’ residence was later set on fire and a canon was taken. 

People also took down army monuments and statues and many raised slogans against the army. This is the first time that Pakistan has seen a large-scale popular struggle against the military.

The Pakistani diaspora also held protests in New York, London, Toronto, Washington DC, Dallas, Chicago, Manchester, Wales, and other regions. 

The police imposed Section 144 in Islamabad, Peshawar and Punjab and other big cities. In Peshawar, Section 144 has been imposed for thirty days and authorities have warned strict action in case of violation. Police fired tear gas against protestors in Islamabad, Reuters reports. Authorities report that 43 protesters were arrested in Islamabad and 23 PTI workers were arrested in Karachi. One protester was killed and six were injured. Six police officers were also injured in Quetta. The PTI twitter handle accused the police of abducting Ali Haider Zaidi, PTI President of the Sindh chapter. 

Social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been suspended in some parts of the country. Mobile internet services have also been suspended in major cities. All Pakistan Private Schools Federation announced that all private schools would remain closed on Wednesday.

Read Also: Ex-Pakistan PM Imran Khan arrested outside Islamabad high court


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November 2023


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