Pak­istan re­leases 2,000 oppn party sup­port­ers

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Pak­istani po­lice yes­ter­day re­leased nearly 2,000 op­po­si­tion party sup­port­ers of crick­eter­turned-politi­cian Im­ran Khan who were de­tained ahead of planned anti-gov­ern­ment protests, a gov­ern­ment spokesman said. The ma­jor­ity of Khan’s sup­port­ers were set free from Pun­jab prov­ince jails on or­ders from Chief Min­is­ter Shah­baz Sharif, his spokesman Rana Ar­shad said. Shah Mah­mood Qureshi, a se­nior op­po­si­tion leader, al­leged that the gov­ern­ment was still hold­ing some se­nior aides and was mis­treat­ing some of the de­tainees. “We want them treated well,” he said.

Khan’s party had threat­ened to lock down the cap­i­tal yes­ter­day to force Prime Min­is­ter Nawaz Sharif to re­sign over a fi­nan­cial scan­dal. Au­thor­i­ties banned all protests in Islamabad in re­sponse, and the ar­rests fol­lowed sev­eral days of clashes in which po­lice used tear gas and ba­tons against stone-throw­ing Khan sup­port­ers. The mass protest has since been called off and Khan asked his fol­low­ers to in­stead gather in peace­ful cel­e­bra­tion.

Sharif has been un­der im­mense pres­sure from the op­po­si­tion to step down after his fam­ily mem­bers were named in leaked fi­nan­cial doc­u­ments from Pana­ma­nian law firm Mos­sack Fon­seca. He has re­peat­edly de­nied that ei­ther he or his rel­a­tives were in­volved in cor­rup­tion and has of­fered to com­ply with any in­quiries or in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Lawyers for both the op­po­si­tion and the gov­ern­ment will ap­pear be­fore the court on Thurs­day to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of form­ing an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion to in­ves­ti­gate the is­sue. Thou­sands of Khan’s sup­port­ers gath­ered yes­ter­day at a park in Islamabad, singing and danc­ing, and wait­ing for Khan’s ar­rival. “Go Nawaz Go” chanted Shamma Khan, who had the op­po­si­tion party flag painted on her face, mak­ing a vic­tory sign. — AP

ISLAMABAD: Sup­port­ers of a Pak­istani op­po­si­tion party Pak­istan Tehreek-e-Isaf wave party flags while tak­ing part in a rally. — AP

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