Pakistan rules arrest of former president Imran Khan unlawful as protests turn violent

The Supreme Court in Pakistan ruled on Thursday that former Prime Minister Imran Khan’s dramatic arrest was unlawful. The ruling comes just two days after the former leader was arrested for corruption, resulting in Khan’s supporters taking to the streets to protest the incident, per Reuters.

The arrest prompted a violent response from Khan’s supporters, which reportedly included internet outages and security forces deploying tear gas and water cannons in Karachi, Lahore, and Peshawar in an effort to disperse the crowd, per The Washington Post. Several deaths of protesters were reported and many more were injured.

Some of Khan’s supporters reportedly targeted various military sites. Since Pakistan was formed in 1947, the military has been in control for 33 of those years. It is uncertain if the rioters object to the use of the military, or if they oppose the military being deployed on a political figure they support.

The charges that Khan faces reportedly involve the sale of items sent to him by foreign leaders while serving as the prime minister. However, CNN reported that Khan’s lawyer said he rejects the indictment.

Khan appeared in court to face the charges of corruption just a day after he was arrested, and he said that he was “tortured and beaten” all night. His lawyer mentioned that the former leader had “bruises on his head” when they met during the court hearing. However, Khan was handed another corruption charge on Tuesday, being accused of the illegal acquisition of land and construction for the purposes of building a university, per the report.

The authorities had attempted to arrest Khan on March 5, 2023, but he managed to evade being apprehended. But Khan has been on the military’s radar since he was voted out of office in a no-confidence vote on April 10, 2022.

Though it is still uncertain what the United States’ official stance is on the arrest of Khan, CNN reported in 2022 that Khan accused the US of conspiring to remove him from office in 2022. Khan’s accusations against the US fired up his young supporters in a country where anti-American and anti-establishment ideologies are rampant.

However, Pakistan’s current leadership has recently struck a discounted oil deal with Russia, who the US has actively been pushing back against in the war in Ukraine.

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