The Supreme Court of Pakistan ordered that former Prime Minister Imran Khan be released immediately on Thursday, two days after he was arrested in a corruption case, Dawn reported.

A bench led by Chief Justice of Pakistan Umar Ata Bandial termed Khan’s arrest unlawful and directed him to approach the Islamabad High Court on Friday for relief. The court, however, said that Khan will stay at Police Lines guest house in Islamabad for the night, but added that he will not be considered a prisoner.

Khan was arrested from the Islamabad High Court complex and whisked away to an unknown location overnight on Tuesday. His arrest prompted the Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party to urge supporters to take to streets against the Pakistani military, who the outfit alleges is behind the former prime minister’s arrest.

At least 8 persons have been killed and 240 persons injured in the protest which turned violent.

The case against the former premier 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. Khan 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.

A man speaks on his mobile as fire and smoke billow from a Radio Pakistan building after it was set afire by protestors on Wednesday. | Reuers/FayazAziz

The Al-Qadir Trust case is among the over 100 legal cases that Khan faces in Pakistan. These include cases related to treason, blasphemy, terrorism and inciting violence.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court criticised the manner in which Khan was arrested during a court appearance in Islamabad, according to Dawn.

“What dignity remains of the court if 90 people entered its premises?” a bench also comprising Justices Muhammad Ali Mazhar and Athar Minallah asked. “How can any individual be arrested from court premises?”

After the court’s order, Khan issued urged his supporters to remain peaceful. “We only want elections in the country,” he maintained. The former prime minister also alleged that he was treated “like a terrorist” in custody.

Meanwhile, Maryam Nawaz, the chief organiser of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (N), criticised the chief justice saying he was “very happy to release a criminal”.