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Pakistan Imran Khan approaches top court against military deployment

May 25, 2023 at 7:07 pm

Former Pakistani Prime Minister and Chairman of his political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Imran Khan arrives to appear before Islamabad High Court seeking bail in corruption and other cases registered against him in Islamabad, Pakistan, on May 12, 2023 [Muhammad Reza – Anadolu Agency]

Calling it “undeclared martial law,” Pakistan’s former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, on Thursday approached the top court against the deployment of armed forces in parts of the country, requesting it to term the move unconstitutional, Anadolu Agency reports.

The army was deployed in the provinces of Punjab, Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and the capital, Islamabad, over violence after Khan’s controversial arrest on 9 May.

His brief detention, which was later declared illegal, had sparked protests by his supporters, and attacks on state and military installations.

Since then, thousands of suspects, including top PTI leaders, have been detained, and the army says it will try the rioters under military law.

Besides anchor person, Imran Riaz Khan, his colleague and senior journalist, Sami Ibrahim, is also said to have been picked up and is missing since Wednesday, according to his colleagues and family members.

Under pressure to denounce the violence, a number of former parliamentarians and leaders have quit Khan’s party or politics.

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The embattled former premier petitioned that the arrests, investigations and trials under the Army Act 1952 “amounts to negation” of the Constitution, rule of law and independence of the judiciary.”

He said the arrests of members, supporters and workers of his party under the Maintenance of Public Order law are “illegal”, and all those detained should be set free.

Khan, who challenged the deployment of troops in civilian areas earlier this week as well, also called for a judicial commission to probe the incidents.

Since being removed from power, he has been campaigning for snap general elections, which are due later this year.

Meanwhile, Gen. Asim Munir, Pakistan’s Army chief, addressing a ceremony marking Martyrs Reverence Day in Rawalpindi, said the nation will “neither forgive nor forget” those involved in “desecrating memorials of martyrs and harming their dignity.”

Separately, an anti-terrorism court in Lahore directed police to hand over 16 suspects arrested in connection with vandalism at Lahore Corps Commander’s House to the military.

Besides the escalating political uncertainty, Pakistan faces a balance of payment crisis, severely depleted foreign reserves and increasingly grim prospects of external financing.

READ: Saudi Arabia, UAE refuse to back Pakistan economy until IMF provides funding first