On Wednesday~, police surrounded the residence of former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan, claiming he was harboring scores of people involved in violent rallies over his recent arrest.
The police presence was sure to enrage Khan’s many supporters, raising fears of further conflicts between them and the security forces. Khan supporters damaged public property and military stations last week when he was hauled out of court and jailed. Over the weekend, the popular opposition leader was released and returned to his home in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city and the headquarters of the Punjab region.
Khan took to Twitter on Wednesday, when 200 police officers surrounded the residence and a jail van arrived. “Probably my last tweet before my next arrest,” Khan wrote on Twitter. ” The police have surrounded my house.” Amir Mir, a spokesman for the Punjab provincial government, said earlier on Wednesday that Khan had 24 hours to hand over 40 detainees allegedly sheltering at his residence or risk a police raid. Mir stated during a press conference that 3,400 individuals have been apprehended thus far, with further operations planned. Pakistani officials have stated that people engaging in recent antigovernmental protests will face military trials. In a speech to troops on Wednesday, Army Chief Gen. Asim Munir stressed that “recently planned and orchestrated tragic incidents will never be allowed again at any cost.”
Amnesty International and the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan have expressed concern over the government’s plan. According to Dinushika Dissanayake, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for South Asia, prosecuting civilians in military courts is against international law.
Military tribunals in Pakistan are typically held behind closed doors, depriving civilians of basic rights such as the opportunity to choose their own lawyer. Khan, 70, was deposed by a vote of no confidence in parliament last year. He is currently facing over 100 accusations, primarily for instigating violence, threatening officials, and violating a rally ban. He and his wife are also charged with graft.
In recent days, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government has accused Khan of concealing suspects involved to last week’s assaults. Meanwhile, Khan claimed that some of his followers were tortured in police custody and requested the immediate release of all female inmates. He provided no evidence to back up his assertions. Khan stated in a speech on Wednesday that he has never pushed his supporters to participate in violence. He said the attacks on military stations were planned by unknown individuals as part of a larger plot to put his party against the military, but he provided no evidence.
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