Pakistan: Anti-graft body gets 8-day custody of Imran Khan; top PTI leaders held, violence continues

  • The Islamabad court will hear the matter next on May 17
  • The 70-year-old former cricketer-turned-politician says in court that he was tortured in custody
  • ‘Pakistani foreign minister and Imran Khan’s close aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi arrested’

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been sent to the custody of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Islamic Republic’s top anti-corruption body, for eight days.

“The court has approved eight days of physical remand of Imran Khan,” Ali Bukhari, a lawyer for embattled cricketer-turned-politician , told news agency AFP by phone after the closed-door hearing.

According to reports, the NAB sought to keep Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief in custody for 14 days, even as his lawyers said there was no need for the agency to seek physical remand. The court granted the agency eight days of custody, shortly after reserving its plea.

Interestingly, while he was sent to eight-day custody in the graft case in which he was arrested a day earlier, another court also formally framed charges against the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party chief in a second graft case.

Khan was arrested yesterday by the Pakistani rangers from the premises of the Islamabad High Court where he had for a hearing in one of dozens of cases pending since he was ousted from office last year. Khan was unseated in April last year after he lost a trust vote, following which the Shehbaz Sharif government came to power.

The Islamabad court will hear the matter next on May 17. Khan was present in an Islamabad district and sessions court where judge Humayun Dilawar conducted the hearing. Pakistan’s GEO television broadcast footage also showed Khan appearing before a judge at a temporary court inside a police compound on Wednesday in connection with the Al-Qadir Trust case.

According to the Pakistani daily The Dawn, the NAB officials gave details about the Al Qadir Trust case in which Khan was arrested, underscoring that the money that was supposed to be given to the government of Pakistan was instead given to Bahria Town, the company run by real estate tycoon Malik Riaz. In exchange, the company provided money to Khan and his wife Bushra Bibi and land to the Al Qadir educational trust, which is also linked to his family, reported the paper. “This is a corruption case which the UK’s National Crime Agency has probed,” the NAB’s lawyer said, according to Dawn.

Khan has been in the for allegedly buying gifts he received as Pakistan’s prime minister at a discounted price from the state depository called Toshakhana and selling them for profit.

Violence continues

The arrest of cricketer-turned-politician sparked violent protests across the country with reports of arson and attacks on military installations kept coming in, forcing the government to deploy Army troops in parts of Pakistan’s Punjab. Several people have been killed in the violence. According to Associated Press, at least two people were killed in the violent agitation on Tuesday night. On Wednesday afternoon, a journalist tweeted that “4 bodies and 27 injured have been received at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar”. According to local media, Pakistani foreign minister and Imran Khan’s close aide Shah Mahmood Qureshi was arrested

Amnesty International said it was “alarmed” by reports that access to mobile internet networks and social media remain suspended for a second day, according to the Wire. Amnesty urged authorities to “show restraint, saying clashes between law enforcement and Khan’s supporters risk human rights violations”, according to AP.

The Internet may remain suspended indefinitely in view of the tense situation on the ground.


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