Supporters of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, protesting against his arrest, have entered the compound of the army commanders’ residence in Lahore. Media footage showed them also storming the army headquarters in Rawalpindi. In Peshawar, the Radio Pakistan building has also been set on fire. The 70-year-old cricketer-turned-politician was arrested earlier today as he was entering the Islamabad High Court for a hearing in a case.
Protests by Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) supporters broke out across Pakistan soon after his arrest. Prohibitory orders banning large gatherings were imposed across Islamabad. “Section 144 is in force and action will be taken in case of violation,” the Islamabad police said.
Besides Islamabad, protests started in Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar, and Mardan, reported Geo News.
In Rawalpindi, Imran Khan’s supporters smashed the main gate of the army’s sprawling headquarters and chanted slogans against the establishment. The troops, however, exercised restraint.
In Lahore, during a demonstration in the Cantonment area, a large number of PTI workers stormed into the residence of the Corps Commander and smashed the gate and window-panes.
The army personnel did not try to stop the enraged protesters, who surrounded them and raised slogans against the ‘handlers’ of the PML-N led government in the military establishment.
In Karachi and Rawalpindi, protesters clashed with the police, who, reports said, threw teargas shells to control the mob. Videos from the spot showed them chanting “Release Imran Khan,” and “Shut down Pakistan” slogans.
The PTI urged its supporters to protest, tweeting this is a “now or never opportunity”.
The arrest comes a day after the army had accused Mr Khan of levelling baseless allegations against a senior officer of the spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence. Mr Khan had accused top ISI officer Major-General Faisal Naseer of being involved in the assassination attempt against him in Wazirabad.
He had also claimed that Major Naseer was involved in the murder of senior journalist Arshad Sharif.
Amid the allegations and the army reaction, there have been questions if Mr Khan’s dramatic arrest could only be attributed to the charges against him.