Top PTI leaders arrested as violence escalates across Pakistan

Imran Khan, Shah Mehmood Qureshi and others. [File Photo]

As violent protests against the arrest of former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan continue across country, top Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) leaders including Shah Mahmood Qureshi, Fawad Chaudhry and Asad Umar were taken into custody from Islamabad.

Qureshi was arrested in the wee hours on Thursday after the police raided Gilgit-Baltidstan House in Islamabad under Section 3 of Maintenance of Public order (3MPO), Geo News reported.

The former foreign minister has been arrested by the police in cases of riots and arsons in Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, police sources told Geo News. However, before his arrest, the PTI leader encouraged party workers to continue their struggle for true freedom in the country.

“As a foreign minister of Pakistan, I defended Pakistan’s interests at every forum. I have been in practical politics for 40 years,” he said.

Qureshi added that he has no regrets and has not made any provocative statements that could lead to lawsuits. He was confident that the PTI’s movement will reach its destination.

The PTI leader — who was second in line to Khan — expressed his grief and shock over around 50 casualties in the recent violent protests that erupted after the arrest of party chairman Khan in Islamabad.

He noted that a worthwhile cause requires sacrifices and the PTI and its workers will continue their struggle for such a worthy cause.

“All organisations, ticket holders, office-holders are requested not to lose heart and stay put in the field,” he advised party cadres. “We have not taken the law into our hands before, and we will not do so in the future as well.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Rangers personnel arrested the former prime minister from the premises of the Islamabad High Court (IHC) — acting on National Accountability Bureau’s (NAB) warrant.

Following his arrest, the PTI urged supporters all across Pakistan to protest and “block all roads, close all shops”.

Subsequently, PTI workers held protests in several cities, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Gujranwala, Faisalabad, Multan, Peshawar, and Mardan.In Karachi, demonstrators clashed with the police near Nursery. They threw stones at and set fire to police vehicles, tore down street lights, and damaged a bus. There were reports that police fired teargas shells at the protesters.

Protesters also caused damage to public property in other cities, including Rawalpindi and Lahore.

On Wednesday, an anti-corruption court sent Khan on an eight-day physical remand to the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) while sessions court indicted him in the Toshakhana case on charges of illegally selling state gifts during his premiership between 2018-22.

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