Pak­istan oppn party says more of its work­ers ar­rested, can­cels rally

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pak­istani po­lice have ar­rested 30 work­ers from the op­po­si­tion Pak­istan Tehreek-eIn­saf (PTI) party ahead of planned protests to shut down the cap­i­tal on Wed­nes­day, a PTI of­fi­cial said on Satur­day, as the party can­celled a rally in the cap­i­tal. On Fri­day, sup­port­ers of PTI leader Im­ran Khan, a for­mer Pak­istani cricket hero, clashed with po­lice in Rawalpindi, 20 km from Is­lam­abad, and Khan ac­cused the gov­ern­ment of plac­ing him un­der vir­tual house ar­rest.

Po­lice on Thurs­day ar­rested 38 PTI work­ers at a youth rally, hours af­ter lo­cal au­thor­i­ties im­posed a two-month ban on all pub­lic gath­er­ings in Is­lam­abad and Rawalpindi. The po­lice and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ment. Khan has vowed to ‘lock down’ Is­lam­abad on Wed­nes­day in a bid to force Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif to re­sign over al­le­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion linked to the Panama Pa­pers leaks. Po­lice say they will block any such at­tempt.

Chaudhry Rizwan, a se­nior PTI of­fi­cial for Is­lam­abad, said 30 peo­ple were ar­rested overnight from out­side Khan’s home, where some sup­port­ers slept. A Reuters re­porter saw more than 100 po­lice of­fi­cers, some in riot gear, posted near Khan’s res­i­dence. “To­day’s rally has been can­celled. For now, what­ever will hap­pen will be at Khan’s Bani Gala res­i­dence,” added Rizwan. PTI’s rally on Satur­day was sched­uled to act as a pre­lude for Wed­nes­day’s at­tempt to lock down Is­lam­abad.

There were about 80 PTI sup­port­ers near Khan’s road, vow­ing to pro­tect their leader and de­mand­ing that Sharif stand down. “I came here be­cause I think of Pak­istan, and things are very bad here. There is too much cor­rup­tion here,” said Dost Muham­mad, 30, a tai­lor from Swat re­gion who camped out­side Khan’s home overnight. Khan’s lat­est chal­lenge to Sharif’s gov­ern­ment is based on leaked doc­u­ments from the Panama-based Mos­sack Fon­seca law firm that ap­pear to show that his daugh­ter and two sons owned off­shore hold­ing com­pa­nies reg­is­tered in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands. Sharif’s fam­ily de­nies wrong­do­ing.

Hold­ing off­shore com­pa­nies is not il­le­gal in Pak­istan, but Khan has im­plied the money was gained by cor­rup­tion. Khan ad­mit­ted in May that he used an off­shore com­pany him­self to legally avoid pay­ing Bri­tish tax on a Lon­don property sale. — Reuters

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