Pakistan’s government has called out the army to help end the widespread unrest after the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Khan was arrested on corruption charges fueling violent clashes between his supporters and the police in numerous cities across the country including Islamabad.
After Khan was arrested, his supporters stormed military buildings and ransacked the residence of a top army general. As the situation got worse, the protestors attacked and set ablaze state buildings and assets in major cities. The clashes have left at least six people dead and Khan’s continued detention is feared to cause deadly protests and unrest in the country. As tension remained high, paramilitary troops and police flooded two of Khan’s strongholds, Punjab and Khyber- Pakhtunkhwa. The government suspended mobile services in these provinces and closed schools and offices until order is restored.
According to the current Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, Pakistan has never experienced such protests in 75 years. Shebaz was worried and unhappy that citizens were held hostage in their vehicles while patients were taken out of ambulances on their way to the hospital and later the vehicles were torched. More than 1,700 protestors were arrested, and they are waiting to be arraigned in court.
The 70-year-old politician was ousted via a vote of no confidence last year. Khan is the 7th former prime minister to be arrested. Imran Khan has denounced land fraud and corruption charges citing them as a political plot by the current prime minister Shehbaz Sharif to prevent him from returning to power. Pakistan is expected to hold elections later this year. Khan is campaigning against Sharif, his successor, and he is demanding early elections.
As violence spread nationwide, many people stayed home. In an attempt to restore peace, leaders have appealed to their supporters to be peaceful.