Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan was presented before a judge at a police station in Islamabad, 24 hours after his arrest by paramilitary officers which caused uproar throughout the country.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) arrested Khan on allegations of property corruption and has sought to keep him in custody for two weeks. At least four people were shot dead and 27 were injured in the city of Peshawar after violence broke out between protesters and police.
Nearly 1,000 people were arrested in Punjab, the country’s most populous state, and the army was deployed. The government claims that Khan’s supporters were responsible for the looting of more than a dozen official buildings and the torching of 25 police vehicles in the province.
Khan’s lawyer requested that the hearing take place in a public court rather than behind closed doors in the police station, and expressed concern that he had not received the NAB’s inquiry report on the case. There was heavy security at the police station where Khan appeared before a judge. Police fired tear gas into the crowds swelling near the barriers. Some people threw stones at officers and set a motorcycle on fire.
Members of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party called his arrest a “state abduction” and claimed that the makeshift hearing in the police station was a “kangaroo court”, adding that senior lawyers and figures from the party were being prevented from meeting Khan. PTI leader Shah Mahmood Qureshi confirmed the party had approached the supreme court to challenge the legality of Khan’s detention. He stated that the party was working to secure Khan’s release and would not be deterred by arrests and intimidation.
Mobile internet and access to social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube and Facebook remained down on Wednesday, and schools and universities in Punjab were closed. The government has yet to confirm when these services will be restored.