Imran Khan Arrested: Islamabad police warned of action as PTI called for protests.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested today just as he was entering the Islamabad High Court for a hearing in one of the dozens of cases pending since he was ousted from office last year. The 70-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician was taken into custody from the court premises by paramilitary forces; leaders from his party, Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), have alleged that the police entered the court, smashed the glass window of the room where his biometric data was being taken, and dragged him outside. The arrest comes a day after the country's powerful army had accused Mr Khan of levelling baseless allegations against a senior officer of the spy agency ISI.
Imran Khan was arrested in the Qadir Trust case (which concerns allegations that Bahria Town allotted land worth millions to Al-Qadir Trust, owned by the PTI chairman Mr Khan and his wife), Islamabad Police tweeted in Urdu, adding that the situation is "normal". However, The dramatic manner of the arrest has many questioning if the arrest was on the merits of the case alone.
"Section 144 is in force and action will be taken in case of violation," Islamabad police warned as PTI called for supporters to take to the streets in protest.
Pakistan Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah tweeted that Imran Khan had failed to appear before the court despite being issued several notices. "The arrest has been conducted by the National Accountability Bureau for causing losses to the national treasury. No violence was done to him," he tweeted in Urdu.
Hours before leaving for court, Imran Khan in a video tweeted by his party doubled down on his allegations against top ISI officer Major-General Faisal Naseer, who he says was involved in the assassination attempt against him in Wazirabad.
In another video, originally from 2022 and re-shared soon after his arrest, Imran Khan calls the government "choron ki toli (gang of thieves)". "...when these words reach you, I will already be locked up in an unlawful case. After this, you all should realise that fundamental rights, law, and democracy have been buried. It's possible that I won't get a chance to talk to you again...That's why I want to talk about two-three things," he says in the video posted on Mr Khan's official Instagram account.
Imran Khan had two days also claimed that Major Naseer was involved in the brutal murder of senior journalist Arshad Sharif.
"Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI)'s Major-General Faisal Naseer tried to kill me twice. He is also involved in the killing of (TV anchor) Arshad Sharif. He also stripped my party Senator Azam Swati naked and inflicted severe torture on him," Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan had said at a rally in Lahore on May 7 from his bullet-bomb-proof vehicle.
Arshad Sharif, who was critical of the Army, was killed in Kenya last October as he fled the country citing threats to his life from the security agencies.
The former Pakistan PM has evaded arrest several times recently, including the dramatic escape from a police raid at his residence in Lahore's Zaman Park.
A video showing a swarm of paramilitary personnel surrounding Imran Khan and whisking him away to an armoured vehicle has gone viral on social media. Imran Khan's party also shared the video, alleging he was "badly pushed".
"They have badly pushed injured (sic) Imran Khan. Pakistan's people, this is the time to save your country. You won't get any other opportunity," it said.
Dawn newspaper reported that Islamabad High Court Chief Justice Aamer Farooq had directed the Islamabad police chief, the interior ministry secretary, and the additional attorney general to appear before it within 15 minutes.
"The IHC CJ said that he was showing "restraint" and warned that he would "summon" the prime minister if the Islamabad police chief did not appear before the court," Dawn further said.
"Come to court and tell us why Imran has been arrested and in which case," the Pakistani newspaper quoted Justice Farooq.
Imran Khan's aide and his party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leader Fawad Chaudhry had earlier claimed that Islamabad High Court was occupied by Rangers, and lawyers were being subjected to torture. "Imran Khan's car has been surrounded," he tweeted in Urdu.
PTI also tweeted a video of an injured man with blood stains on his shirt, claiming Imran Khan's lawyer was "badly injured" inside the court premises of IHC. "Black day for our democracy and country," it said.