Paramilitary troops arrested former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan from a court complex in Islamabad, a development that threatens to escalate the cash-strapped nation’s political crisis and draw thousands of his supporters to the streets.
Dozens of security officials escorted Khan into a black SUV while others beat back some of his supporters in the court complex in Islamabad, according to video footage shared by Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party on social media. The party called for supporters to come out and “defend” their country, calling for protests across major cities in Pakistan.
Khan’s party said he had been picked up in connection with a graft investigation involving a plot of land. The former prime minister had been given notices about the case before this action, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told told media.
It’s not immediately clear where Khan, who has resisted arrest twice over another case, was being taken. When the government last attempted to arrest the former cricket star in March, hundreds of party workers had surrounded his residence in the city of Lahore fighting pitched battles with local police to protect their leader.
The former cricket star faces a slew of court cases and was set to be formally indicted Wednesday in a case that involved allegations he did not properly disclose earnings from the sale of state gifts from his time in office.
Rangers abducted PTI Chairman Imran Khan, these are the visuals. Pakistan’s brave people must come out and defend their country. pic.twitter.com/hJwG42hsE4
— PTI (@PTIofficial) May 9, 2023
Over the weekend, Khan had once again accused the nation’s powerful military of being behind at least two attempts to murder him, focusing on the alleged involvement of a senior official from the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), which oversees Pakistan’s internal security.
The army had slammed his remarks and asked him to address the matter in court.
The politician is agitating for early elections after being ousted in April 2022 in a no-confidence vote. Emboldened by strong support in opinion polls and rallies, khan has shown no signs of backing down against the government and the army and is seeking support from the Supreme Court to hold polls in two provinces for a start.
Former PM Imran Khan has been abducted from Court premises, scores of lawyers and general people have been tortured, Imran Khan has been whisked away by unknown people to an unknown location, CJ Islamabad HIgh Court has ordered Secy interior and IG police to appear within 15 min…
— Ch Fawad Hussain (@fawadchaudhry) May 9, 2023
The former prime minister was taken in a black vigo by the law enforcement agency.
Confirming the arrest, Inspector General of Police, (IGP) Islamabad Dr Akbar Nasir Khan said that Imran Khan was arrested in the Al-Qadir Trust case, adding that the situation is under control.
Read more: Imran Khan responds to ISPR before leaving for Islamabad
During a rally on Saturday, the PTI chairman once again named a senior intelligence official, accusing them of planning his assassination. Despite credible threats to his life, Imran Khan stated that he continues to be present among the public. He also claimed to have already survived one assassination attempt and alleged that he had detected plans for another.
This was not the first time the ex-premier has made these claims. After an assassination attempt last year, Imran had held Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the senior intelligence official as being responsible for the bid to assassinate him and demanded they resign.
In a video message shared on Tuesday, Imran replied to the ISPR and “attempts by PDM and their handlers” regarding his arrest. He said that he was departing for the federal capital as he was scheduled to appear before two courts.