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Protests erupt as Pakistan’s ex-Prime Minister arrested in Lahore

AT News

KABUL – Pakistan’s eastern city of Lahore is witnessing protests after former Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested by authorities after a trial court handed down a three-year prison sentence. Khan’s arrest has triggered fervent protests among his loyal supporters.

The sentencing revolves around accusations of illegal dealings involving state gifts during Khan’s tenure as prime minister from 2018 to 2022. These gifts, acquired during official visits abroad and valued at over 140 million Pakistani rupees ($635,000), were allegedly bought and sold for personal gain, violating the trust bestowed upon him by the nation. Judge Humayun Dilawar, in a scathing ruling, emphasized the irrefutable evidence of Khan’s dishonest practices and his intentional concealment of the benefits obtained from the national exchequer.

In addition to the prison term, Khan has been fined 100,000 rupees ($355), the non-payment of which could extend his incarceration by an additional six months. The aftermath of the verdict saw law enforcement personnel cordoning off Khan’s residence, where he was apprehended. His legal counsel, Intezar Panjotha, announced plans to challenge the court’s decision in the high court, indicating a determined effort to contest the conviction.

The impact of Khan’s arrest reverberated across the nation as his fervent supporters took to the streets to demonstrate their solidarity with their embattled leader. Khan, in a pre-recorded video message, exhorted his followers to rise up against what he referred to as an unjust persecution. He implored them not to remain passive spectators, framing his struggle as one for the betterment of the nation and the future of its citizens.

“Silence in the face of oppression is akin to acquiescence to a life of servitude,” Khan asserted. His impassioned appeal referenced what he termed the “London Plan,” an alleged conspiracy involving current army chief General Asim Munir and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Despite Khan’s claims, tangible evidence of this purported plot has yet to surface.

It’s worth noting that Khan’s detention earlier this year in May, stemming from a separate case, had already triggered a series of dramatic events that roiled the country. The initial arrest led to violent confrontations between his ardent supporters and law enforcement, with several military installations becoming flashpoints of tension.

As Pakistan grapples with the aftermath of Imran Khan’s arrest and braces for further uncertainty, the nation finds itself at a crossroads, torn between vehement protests and the rule of law.

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