Imran Khan, former Pakistan Prime Minister and chief of Pakistan-Tehreek-e-Insaf party, was arrested outside Islamabad High Court today in a manner that has left his supporters screaming “kidnapping!”
A video being circulated on Twitter shows Imran being practically hauled down the road, surrounded by a sea of paramilitary personnel — perhaps about two dozen or more, judging by the video footage — and being forced into an armoured heavy vehicle. The disorderly and almost violent attitude of the paramilitary forces has given credence to his supporters’ claim that this was an “abduction”.
Before his arrest, Imran had posted a video on his Instagram account, in which he said that he was on his way to the high court, and was unfortunately delayed by a small accident, and that he wanted to tell everyone that a “complete plan” had been made to arrest him.
He said in the video that there was a plan to put him in jail, so that he would not be able to participate in future elections. He attributed this alleged conspiracy to Nawaz Sharif, another former Prime Minister, who now lives in London.
Exactly as Imran predicted, he was arrested. Several people took to the streets immediately to protest against the arrest. Police warned that Section 144 was in force, making it punishable by law to gather in the street.
Imran, 70, whose fame as a former cricketer and captain of the Pakistan national team even now surpasses his success as a politician, was about to enter Islamabad High Court for a hearing. He has quite a few cases to his name following his ouster from the Prime Minister’s office in April 2022.
PTI leaders have said that the paramilitary forces entered the court premises, attacked the room where the former Prime Minister’s biometric data was being taken, and pulled him outside.
He was ostensibly arrested on corruption charges, related to a highly valuable land allotment to Al-Qadir Trust, owned by Imran and his wife. However, most of his supporters felt that Imran was arrested because he had accused an officer of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of murder, therefore angering the Pakistan army.
Imran had alleged in a public address in Lahore just a couple of days ago that Major General Faisal Naseer, a top ISI officer, had not only tried to kill Imran twice but was also involved in the murder of senior journalist Arshad Sharif.
Arshad Sharif was a critic of the Pakistani army, and had fled to Kenya, Africa, fearing for his life. He was shot and killed in a Kenyan city in October 2022 by the local police, who claimed that it was a case of “mistaken identity”.