Imran Khan. Photo: AFP
Islamabad/Lahore: Pakistan's former prime minister Imran Khan was on Wednesday sent on an eight-day remand to the anti-corruption watchdog while a sessions court indicted him in a separate graft case, amid violent protests that left at least seven people dead and prompted deployment of the army here and in three provinces.
The 70-year-old chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was taken into custody by the paramilitary Rangers on Tuesday on the orders of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) by barging into a room of the Islamabad High Court.
On Wednesday, Khan was produced in the Anti-Accountability Court No. 1 presided by judge Muhammad Bashir, the same judge who had convicted former premier Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam in a corruption case of having properties in London.
In its verdict, the court handed over Khan for an eight-day remand to the NAB.
During the hearing, the NAB lawyers requested the court to grant a 14-day remand of Khan to probe the allegations against him in the Al-Qadir Trust case in which he is accused of looting Rs 50 billion of the national treasury. But Khan’s lawyer opposed the plea and asked the judge to release him as the charges were fabricated.
In his statement, Khan told the accountability court that he was fearful for his life.
"I have not been to the washroom in 24 hours," he said.
"I am afraid I will meet the same fate as 'Maqsood Chaprasi'," Khan said, referring to a witness in Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif's money laundering case who died due to a cardiac arrest last year. Khan's party had termed the witness' death 'mysterious'.
Separately, the District and Sessions Court indicted Khan in the Toshakhana case.
Judge Humayun Dilawar conducted the hearing in the makeshift court set up in the New Police Guest House along with the ATC No. 1.
Khan was present in the court and pleaded not guilty when the charges were read. He also refused to sign the court documents, according to Geo News channel.
The case was filed last year by the Election Commission of Pakistan and Khan had skipped several hearings in the past months. The charges are about the allegation that Khan concealed the proceeds of sale from the state gifts.
The New Police Guest House located in the high security premises of Police Lines Headquarters at Sector H-11/1 area of Islamabad was declared as a court for the purpose of hearing two cases against the former cricketer-turned-politician.
Citing sources, Geo News said that a medical report submitted to the NAB showed that Khan has been declared fit.
PTI Senior Vice President Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Secretary General Asad Umar went to the Islamabad High Court to file a plea against the police decision to stop them from seeing Khan.
However, before any legal process was launched, Umar was arrested by the anti-terrorism squad of Islamabad police as two new cases have been launched against him for the violence after Khan's arrest. Later, media reports said Qureshi and former Punjab governor Omar Sarfraz Cheema were also arrested.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Army warned Khan's supporters against taking the law into their hands and said it showed "patience and restraint and exercised extreme tolerance," not even caring about its reputation, in the larger interest of the country.
In a terse statement, the army said that May 9 will be remembered as a "black chapter", referring to the protests "targeting army property and installations." "This group wearing a political cloak" has done what enemies could not do in 75 years, all "in the lust for power," the army said.
It warned that any further attack on the army, including all law enforcement agencies, military and state installations and properties will be severely retaliated.
Meanwhile, clashes between protesters and security forces in the last 24 hours have left at least seven people dead and nearly 300 others injured across Pakistan as the army was deployed in the country's capital, Islamabad as well as in Punjab, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces to maintain law and order.
Prime Minister Sharif on Wednesday warned those taking the law into to their own hands to abide by the law otherwise they will be dealt with an iron fist.
"Imran Khan and PTI caused severe damages to sensitive installations of the country. Such scene had never been witnessed in 75 years. Many lives were endangered. Even ambulances were set on fire. Like enemy, installations of armed forces were attacked," he said in a televised address to the nation.
"I urge miscreants to abide by law otherwise they will face strict action. No one will be allowed to conspire against Pakistan. We will never let this conspiracy succeed," he warned.
According to Khan's party, one person has been killed each in Lahore, Faisalabad and Burewala cities of Punjab. It said over 150 protesters have been injured in Punjab alone.
In Peshawar, at least four persons were killed and 27 others injured in clashes between protestors and police, a spokesperson of Lady Reading Hospital confirmed.
Protestors also set fire to the building of state-run Radio Pakistan, causing severe damage to the studios, auditorium and other facilities, Director General Radio Pakistan Peshawar Tahir Hassan said.
The office of state-owned Associated Press of Pakistan located in the building was ransacked and damaged.
In Islamabad, the protestors clashed with police and the Srinagar Highway linking the national capital with its international airport remained blocked for several hours.
IG Islamabad Akbar Nasir Khan told the media that at least five police personnel were injured.
In Sindh, the government imposed Section 144 to control the situation and police arrested around 270 people.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said that internet services across the country will remain suspended for an indefinite period. The services were shut down as protests erupted after Khan’s arrest. PTI