Pakistan police arrest 1,500 supporters of Imran Khan
Pakistani police have arrested at least 1,500 supporters of opposition leader Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party ahead of a massive rally planned later this week in the capital Islamabad.
Security sources said on Monday that the number of those arrested overnight during a nationwide crackdown against PTI supporters ranges between 1,500 and 1,800.
Zaeem Qadri, a government spokesman said police conducted raids based on information and tips about planned violence.
Qadri also added that those who pledge not to take part in violent actions are released.
The official however noted that while those considered a threat remain in custody pending charges.
Meanwhile, police firing tear gas clashed Monday with thousands of stick-wielding party workers travelling from northwest Pakistan towards Islamabad. The fierce clashes took place on the Peshawar-Islamabad motorway, more than 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, as nearly 5,000 PTI supporters tried to remove barricades put in place by police.
Thousands of PTI supporters have tried to drive in convoys to Islamabad from the northwestern city of Peshawar over the past days.
Khan, a former Pakistan cricket star turned politician, has described the planned mass protest on November 2 as a final push to force Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to resign over corruption allegations.
The Islamabad High Court (IHC) announced on Monday that it gave the PTI Party permission to hold the sit-in on Wednesday, dismissing government orders banning the protest action. The IHC, however, warned that the demonstration must not disrupt the daily life of citizens, media reported.
The PTI chief led a previous mass protest in the summer of 2014 in front of the parliament, calling for the government to resign over election rigging allegations.
Khan says anti-government protests would continue until the Sharif administration offers an appropriate response to the corruption allegations.
Leaked confidential documents from the Panamanian Mossack Fonseca law firm have shown how the company helped rich and powerful clients across the world with shady businesses. The clients reportedly include three of Sharif’s children who carried out business transactions that could be judged as money laundering and tax avoidance.
The leaked records revealed that Sharif’s children, Hasan, Hussain and Maryam, not only owned offshore companies, but also real estate property in London. Sharif’s family denies any wrongdoing.
People in Pakistan, with Imran Khan at the helm, are asking for an inquiry to determine how Sharif’s children made all that money to buy the offshore companies and real estate in London’s prime locations, and whether they had paid due tax on their income.