Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has been arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) at the Islamabad High Court, sparking fears of new turmoil in the nuclear-armed country. Khan’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has called for nationwide “shut down” protests in response. The PTI took to Twitter, calling on supporters to “stand for him.” Dozens of supporters blocked streets in Khan’s hometown of Lahore, while protesters blocked a major road in the port city of Karachi. The arrest follows a delay in an International Monetary Fund bailout package, with foreign exchange reserves barely enough to cover a month’s imports, amidst the country’s worst economic crisis in decades.
According to Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, Khan was arrested after he failed to appear before the NAB “despite notices.” Khan faces over 100 corruption allegations, with the specific allegations leading to his arrest not yet clear. His graft case could result in him being barred from holding public office if convicted, with a national election scheduled for November.
Khan, a cricket hero-turned-politician, has remained active since he was ousted as prime minister last year, even after being wounded in an attack on his convoy in November 2022 while leading a protest march to Islamabad calling for snap general elections. This arrest comes amid a dispute with the military dating back to 2021. The military recently issued a rare public rebuke of the former premier for accusing a senior military official of attempting to assassinate him and its former chief of being behind his removal from power. Despite the rebuke, Khan repeated his allegations, claiming that the same officer was responsible for the murder of a Pakistani journalist in Kenya in October.
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