May 10, 2023
By Ahmed Saeed and Hamza Saeed
The Punjab Police has reported the arrest of nearly 1,000 individuals in connection with the protests organized by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), while according to a report submitted by the Karachi Police Chief to Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah at least 270 individuals have been identified and arrested under charges of damaging state property. Sindh Chief Minister Shah has further directed the police to apprehend all individuals involved in the violence and vandalism.
The unfolding events have raised concerns both domestically and internationally.
As the situation unfolds, authorities are taking measures to maintain security. Schools in Punjab have been closed, and mobile internet and social media services remain restricted across the country. The Cabinet has been summoned to monitor the law and order situation in KP.
Senior PTI leaders arrested
PTI Vice-Chair Asad Umar was arrested from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) under the Anti-Terrorism Act earlier today. Former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was also apprehended this evening under similar charges.
Four reported dead in KP violence
Journalist Iftikhar Firdous has reported that at least four dead bodies were received by the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar while many more injured in clashes between protesting civilians and police are under treatment. All casualties currently remain unidentified.
The situation remains volatile, with reports of attacks on government buildings. Tahir Hussain, the director general of Radio Pakistan, confirmed that the state media’s building in Peshawar was subjected to attacks for two consecutive days. Miscreants entered the newsroom and radio audio room, setting fire to the furniture and assaulting the staff. The motive behind these attacks remains unclear.
Moreover, an ambulance carrying injured individuals was deliberately set on fire and destroyed near Jinnah Park on GT Road in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to a spokesperson for the Edhi Foundation. The incident occurred during protests taking place in the area. Although no casualties were reported, the spokesperson mentioned that another ambulance was also damaged in the attack.
PTI leaders urge for peaceful protests
Fawad Chaudhry expressed concerns that efforts were underway to portray the PTI as a violent political party. In a tweet, Chaudhry urged PTI workers to hold peaceful demonstrations and thwart any attempts to incite clashes between the army and the public. He emphasized that both the country and its armed forces belong to the people.
Concerns over deployment of army
Following the government’s decision to deploy the Pakistan Army in Punjab, PTI Vice-Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi hours prior to his arrest today expressed his shock to the media and raised questions about the move. Qureshi referred to a previous instance when the Supreme Court requested security personnel for election duty but was informed that deployment was not possible due to internal security concerns. He questioned the sudden change in the army’s deployment and sought clarification on the matter.
PTI calls for immediate release of Khan
The PTI has approached the Supreme Court (SC) to challenge the May 9 verdict issued by the IHC that Khan’s arrest was on legal grounds.
Party leaders are demanding access to Khan while expressing concerns that his arrest is the result of exacting a political vendetta against him rather than a genuine effort to address corruption allegations.
The party has accused the authorities of attempting to remove Imran from politics by disqualifying him or imprisoning him.
Fawad Chaudhry separately stated that the Chief Justice of the IHC is not immune to arrest. He criticized the police for disregarding orders issued by the country’s judges, including the IHC chief justice’s directive to avoid making arrests.
He suggested that if the top judges’ orders were not being followed, the court should consider shutting down.
Chaudhry also questioned the IHC chief justice’s motives behind issuing a show-cause notice to the Interior Secretary and Islamabad Police chief, given that the court had deemed Khan’s arrest legal.