Pakistan to deploy army in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province over unrest
Pakistan has ordered the deployment of the armed forces in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in light of the protests that are taking place in the province.
Following the arrest of former Pakistani prime minister and head of the opposition Tehreek-e-Insaf party (PTI) Imran Khan, large-scale protests broke out in the northwest province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, prompting Islamabad to announce that it was deploying its army units in the province, the Pakistani Interior Ministry said Wednesday.
The interior ministry underlined that the provincial authorities would decide the precise number of troops, along with the date and location of their deployment.
The government had already ordered the deployment of armed forces in the Punjab region earlier on Wednesday. Following the disturbances, 130 police officers suffered injuries in battles with the protestors, the police said, and close to 1,000 demonstrators were imprisoned in the province.
Cities across the country also witnessed clashes between the police and supporters of Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party for hours on Tuesday night. Local media reported two deaths in those clashes.
Khan will appear Wednesday in a special court at the capital's police headquarters to answer alleged graft charges, a day after his shock arrest prompted violent nationwide protests.
Khan's detention follows months of political crisis and came hours after the powerful military criticized the former PM for accusing a senior officer of being involved in a plot to assassinate him.
The charge that led to Khan's arrest on Tuesday was brought by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country's top anti-corruption body, which claimed that the former PM had ignored repeated summons to appear in court.
Khan has faced dozens of charges since being ousted in April. He could be barred from holding public office if convicted, which would exclude him from elections scheduled for later this year.
His arrest came a day after the military warned him against making "baseless allegations" after he again accused a senior officer of plotting to kill him.
The rebuke late Monday underscored how far Khan's relations have deteriorated with the military, which backed his rise to power in 2018 but withdrew its support ahead of a parliamentary vote of no confidence that ousted him last year.
Pakistan is deeply plunged into an economic and political crisis, with Khan pressuring the struggling coalition government for early elections.
Authorities ambushed the former PM during what was supposed to be a routine court appearance Tuesday. Khan, who has had a pronounced limp since being shot during an assassination attempt last year, was arrested by dozens of paramilitary rangers into an armored car inside the Islamabad High Court premises.
At a weekend rally in Lahore, Khan repeated accusations that senior intelligence officer Major-General Faisal Naseer was involved in an assassination attempt last year during which he was shot in the leg.
In response, the military's Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) wing claimed in a statement that "this fabricated and malicious allegation is extremely unfortunate, deplorable and unacceptable."