Imran Khan supporters are taking to the streets across Pakistan after the former Prime Minister was arrested earlier today in Islamabad.
Tens of thousands of Khan’s supporters took to the streets in the capital, Karachi, Lahore, Peshawar and other cities to protest against his arrest.
In Islamabad, hundreds of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf activists blocked the main Kashmir Highway.
And in Lahore protesters gathered outside Khan’s Zaman Park residence and blocked the adjacent roads by burning tyres. Police used water cannon to disperse the protesters.
The provincial government in Punjab has imposed a law banning demonstrations to maintain law and order, according to local Information Minister Amir Mir.
Similar protest bans were announced in other cities empowering authorirties to arrest members of the public who engage in such gatherings.
Earlier today, video broadcast on local TV channels showed Khan being manhandled by dozens of paramilitary rangers into an armoured car inside the Islamabad High Court premises.
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It was not immediately clear where he was taken.
Khan’s arrest followed months of political crisis and came hours after the country’s powerful military rebuked the former international cricketer for alleging a senior officer had been involved in a plot to kill him.
Anticipating his arrest, party officials later released a pre-recorded video by Khan in which he urged supporters to come out in support of “true freedom.”
He said: “By the time this message reaches you I will have been arrested and locked up in an illegitimate case. What we should all take from this any constitution or laws in our country have today been buried.
“I may not have a chance to speak with you again hence why I want to talk about 2-3 things. Firstly the Pakistani people have known me for over 50 years and never have I gone against Pakistani constitution or broke any laws. And I always have tried to do politics by following the laws and constitution of Pakistan and in a peaceful manner.
“Today what is happening is not happening because I have broken any laws but because I am fighting for freedom and they want me to stop. And the corrupt groups in Pakistan with their imported government which has been forced down on us, they want me to accept them.
“I am appealing to every one that for your rights for you freedom. All will need to come out in the streets. No country or people are ever given freedom on a plate; for freedom you have to fight you have to give effort you have to give jihad. Only then does Allah grant them the gift of freedom. The time has come for us to take out freedom.”
Khan’s arrest was in connection with corruption involving the Al-Qadir University Trust, headed by the opposition leader and his wife Bushra Bibi.
The National Accountability Bureau (NAB) said in a statement on Tuesday the former prime minister “for the crime of corruption” in the trust.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Khan confirmed that Khan was arrested in a case pursued by the anti-corruption body.
“Imran Khan did not appear despite the notices, NAB has arrested him for damaging the national treasury. No violence was done to them,” the interior minister said in a tweet.
But PTI leaders have denied the charges levelled by the interior minister, saying Khan had not been issued any arrest warrant before Tuesday.
Khan has been slapped with more than 100 cases – including corruption, “terrorism” and even blasphemy – since he was removed from power last April through a parliamentary vote of no confidence.
The 70-year-old denies the charges as politically motivated. He has also maintained that political parties joined forces with the country’s powerful military to remove him from power.
He even accused the United States of conspiring in his removal.