Pak­istani po­lice de­tain 1,500 in crack­down on op­po­si­tion

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pak­istani po­lice launched a na­tion-wide crack­down overnight, ar­rest­ing at least 1,500 sup­port­ers of crick­eter­turned-politi­cian Im­ran Khan ahead of an op­po­si­tion rally planned later this week in Islamabad, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day. The ar­rests fol­lowed in­ter­mit­tent clashes over the week­end be­tween Khan’s sup­port­ers and riot po­lice in the cap­i­tal that saw po­lice us­ing tear gas and ba­tons to fight stone-throw­ing ac­tivists. The vi­o­lence erupted again Sun­day near Khan’s sub­ur­ban home and at sev­eral places on Islamabad’s out­skirts.

Yes­ter­day, a Pak­istani court barred Khan’s fol­low­ers from demon­strat­ing on Islamabad streets, re­strict­ing the rally to within the lim­its of a city park, said govern­ment prose­cu­tor Sad­dique Awan. As of last week, the govern­ment has al­ready en­forced a two-month ban on street ral­lies in the cap­i­tal. Khan’s at­tor­ney Babar Awan said the party would ap­peal. The party has called for mas­sive street demon­stra­tions for Wed­nes­day, threat­en­ing to lock down Islamabad in a bid to force Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif to resign. Sharif has been un­der pres­sure af­ter his fam­ily mem­bers were named as hold­ers of off­shore bank ac­counts in leaked fi­nan­cial doc­u­ments from Pana­ma­nian law firm Mos­sack Fon­seca. Po­lice have con­ducted raids based on tips and in­for­ma­tion about planned vi­o­lence, said govern­ment spokesman Zaeem Qadri. Those who pledge not to take part in vi­o­lent ac­tions are re­leased, while those con­sid­ered a threat re­main in cus­tody pend­ing charges, he said. Two se­cu­rity of­fi­cials, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they were not autho­rized to talk to the me­dia, said the num­ber of those ar­rested overnight ranges be­tween 1,500 and 1,800.

Po­lice have placed ship­ping con­tain­ers on key high­ways lead­ing to Islamabad to stop Khan’s party’s con­voys from across Pak­istan from reach­ing the cap­i­tal. In­te­rior Min­is­ter Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said Khan’s fol­low­ers had vi­o­lent plans, which in­cluded the storm­ing of govern­ment of­fices. Khan’s close aide Shah Mah­mood Qureshi al­leged that the po­lice were man­han­dling and rough­ing up the fam­ily mem­bers of the work­ers. “The po­lice are also tres­pass­ing on the houses of our lead­ers and ac­tivists,” he said. He said two se­nior lead­ers of the party were forcibly bun­dled in a po­lice van. Both were later re­leased on or­ders from the in­te­rior min­is­ter. — AP

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