Since Imran Khan’s imprisonment, violence has swept across Pakistan. Officials in Pakistan detained hundreds of his backers overnight and deployed troops around the country to calm the unrest. Ten of Khan’s supporters have been killed and over 200 police officers have been injured in clashes with police since Khan’s spectacular arrest on Tuesday. A train station was burned down by Khan supporters outside of Islamabad on Wednesday night, and almost 1,600 people were arrested that night for vandalizing public property and attacking military posts.
When Khan appeared in an Islamabad court on graft charges, he was arrested and brought to a police compound. His eight-day detention by a provisional court has the potential to incite further demonstrations. Police have accused Khan and other Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leaders of inciting violent riots. Mobs smashed military installations, looted public buildings, burned dozens of police cars, assaulted cops, and shut down key thoroughfares.
The majority of the violence happened in eastern Punjab and northern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where the government subsequently shut down all educational institutions following his detention. The internet was also disabled in certain locations. The government holds Khan and other high-ranking Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf members responsible for inciting violence.
The Chakdara border fort was destroyed after being overwhelmed by Khan’s followers. The Lahore home of Lieutenant General Salman Fayyaz Ghani was attacked by demonstrators on Tuesday night.
According to the government, Khan’s backers attacked military bases because they believed his claims that the military was behind his defeat by Washington and Sharif’s government. The military claims they did not remove Khan. The military vowed to take action against protesters on Wednesday. It asserted that its facilities were well-organized and that the bloodshed was a “black chapter” in the country’s history.
This Islamic country is no stranger to military coups, political turmoil, or violence, but it has never before experienced anything like this. Benazir Bhutto’s supporters rioted across Pakistan after her 2007 assassination in Rawalpindi. The political unrest and bloodshed in Pakistan only make the country’s economic and political difficulties worse.