(Bloomberg) — Former Pakistan premier Imran Khan appeared before a special court as it began hearing a case about granting an anti-graft agency custody of the leader after his dramatic arrest led to violent clashes between his supporters and security forces.
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The 70-year-old former cricket star’s arrest by paramilitary troops on the orders of the National Accountability Bureau in Islamabad is a sharp escalation of his confrontation with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s government and the country’s powerful military.
The agency is going to seek 14 days of custody for Khan, the maximum allowed under law, an agency official said. However, the Dawn newspaper reported that they would likely be granted only four to five days, citing an unnamed source in the agency.
The latest crisis comes as Pakistan is grappling with an economy in deep distress. Moody’s Investors Service has warned the nation could default without an IMF bailout as its financing options beyond June are uncertain. It downgraded the nation’s rating to an all-time low earlier this year.
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(All times Pakistani local)
Imran Khan Declared Fit After Routine Medical Check, Report Says (1:00 pm)
The former premier was taken for a medical check-up soon after his arrest and was declared physically fit, Geo TV reported citing unnamed officials.
Khan’s Party Says Several Senior Leaders Detained (12:30 pm)
At least three senior Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders have been detained across the country by security officials, Khan’s party said. The detainees include general secretary Asad Umar, Ali Zaidi who heads the party in Sindh province and former Punjab governor Omar Sarfaraz Cheema.
Khan’s Legal Team Denied Access, Report Says (11:17 am)
A member of Khan’s legal team said they have been prevented from talking to him and nobody is being allowed access to him. Speaking to Geo News, PTI leader and lawyer Babar Awan said this goes against the law.
Khan’s Custody Hearing to Take Place at Police Headquarters (9:50 am)
Khan’s custody hearing will be held inside Islamabad’s police headquarters for security reasons, a statement from the city’s police commissioner said. A makeshift court will be set up inside a guest house within the complex.
A previously scheduled indictment in a case involving alleged irregularities by Khan in the sale of state gifts will also be held in the same court.
For security reasons all the roads leading to the venue have been blocked with shipping containers and barbed wire. The entry to the courts will be restricted, according to police officer Abdul Qayyum.
Khan to Also Be Indicted in Separate Corruption Case (8:00 am)
Khan, who has been pushing for early national elections since he was ousted from power last year, is facing dozens of cases, including charges of corruption and terrorism. He denies all the charges, saying they are politically motivated.
Khan’s supporters have targeted the army’s headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, stormed a top regional commander’s residence in Lahore, and set fire to at least three buildings across the country on Tuesday night. His party said at least four people were killed and 20 injured.
Khan’s Party to Keep Protesting Until His Release (12:06 am)
The Tehreek-e-Insaf party directed supporters to continue with sit-ins and protests across the country until Khan was released from custody. Supporters are also expected to gather at the Islamabad judicial complex at 8 am to continue with their protests.
US, UK Call for Rule of Law in Pakistan (11:30 pm)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his UK counterpart James Cleverly called for adherence to the rule of law in Pakistan, hours after Khan was arrested.
Blinken said in a press conference in Washington that Washington doesn’t have a position on any political candidate or party. “We just want to make sure whatever happens in Pakistan is consistent with the rule of law, with the constitution,” he said.
Khan has, in the past, accused Washington of conspiring with the army and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for oust him last year. The government and the army have denied the allegation, though Khan had tapped into anti-American sentiment and won widespread support in Pakistan.
Islamabad High Court Says Khan Arrest Is Legal (10:01 pm)
The Islamabad High Court said Khan’s arrest was legal, according to his lawyer Intazar Hussain Panjutha. Khan’s legal team intends to challenge his detention, Panjutha added.
Telecom Official Confirms Mobile Data Services Suspended (9:11 pm)
Mobile broadband services were suspended across the country on orders from the interior ministry, a Telecom Pakistan Authority spokesperson confirmed, after the protests spread.
–With assistance from Phaseeh Mangi, Karl Lester M. Yap and Sudhi Ranjan Sen.
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