Three people died in Peshawar and 20 were injured on Wednesday during as protests against former Prime Minister Imran Khan arrest intensified across the country, Dawn reported.
A spokesperson of the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar said that those injured received bullet wounds on their legs and hands.
Khan was arrested in a corruption case on Tuesday during a court appearance in Islamabad and dragged into an armoured vehicle by paramilitary troops.
The case pertains to the acquisition of land for the Al-Qadir Trust, a non-governmental welfare organisation whose trustees are Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi. The former premier has been accused of granting favours to Malik Riaz Hussain, a powerful real estate tycoon, with a university run by the trust outside Islamabad getting land and donations in return.
Khan’s party – the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf – on Wednesday urged citizens to come onto the streets against “rising fascism” and said that a “make or break moment” had arrived.
The party’s Central General Secretary Asad Umar said that a committee headed by vice chairperson Shah Mahmood Qureshi will announce a plan of action. “The whole world is being shown there is no law left in the country,” he said.
Hours after his arrest, violent protests erupted across Pakistan. Khan’s supporters torched the residence of the corps commander in Lahore and laid siege to the Army’s headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi.
The Ministry of Interior said that it has authorised the deployment of the Army in Punjab province to maintain the law and order situation, according to Dawn.
“The exact numbers of troops/assets, date and area of deployment will be worked out by the provincial government in consultation with the general head quarters,” it said in a notification.
The decision came hours after the Punjab Police said that they have arrested nearly 1,000 people in the province.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority suspended mobile internet across the country on instructions from the Ministry of Interior. The authorities also ordered schools to be shut.
On Tuesday, the Islamabad High Court ruled that Khan’s arrest in the case was lawful.
The High Court took notice of Khan’s arrest and summoned the inspector general of police, the interior department secretary and the additional attorney general. Chief Justice Aamer Farooq told the officials to inform the court about who carried out the arrest and what the case pertained to. The court later declared that the former prime minister was arrested legally.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that Khan failed to appear before the court in Al-Qadir Trust case despite being issued several notices.
Asad Umar said that the party’s legal team will approach the Supreme Court against the decision, Al-Jazeera reported.
Khan is facing at least 121 cases across Pakistan. These include cases related to treason, blasphemy, inciting violence and terrorism.
Khan was arrested days after he accused Major General Faisal Naseer, the director general of counter-intelligence in the Inter-Services Intelligence, of attempting to kill him twice. The Pakistan Army had termed the allegations “highly irresponsible and baseless” and had asked the former prime minister to take recourse to legal avenues instead.
“This fabricated and malicious allegation is extremely unfortunate, deplorable and unacceptable,” the Army had said. “This has been a consistent pattern for last one year wherein military and intelligence agencies officials are targeted with insinuations and sensational propaganda for the furtherance of political objectives.”
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif accused Khan of levelling allegations against the Army without any proof and said that such actions would not be tolerated. The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader, however, asked whether the military was above the law. “If we allege one of them has committed a crime, how is institution being maligned?” he asked.
On November 3, Khan was shot in the leg after a man had fired multiple bullets at him during a rally in Wazirabad. The assailant, identified as Naveed Mohammad Basheer, was arrested on the spot.
Khan was prime minister of Pakistan from 2018 until 2022, when he was ousted from office in a parliamentary vote. Since he was removed from office, he had refused to appear before courts, alleging that the cases against him are a plot by Sharif to discredit him.