Arrest Of Former Pakistani PM Imran Khan Touches Off Nationwide Protests

Mobile broadband has been suspended in Pakistan amid protests in major cities following the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) said mobile broadband had been suspended on the instructions of the Interior Ministry, Pakistan's Dawn newspaper reported on May 9.

Access to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube has also apparently restricted, according to Internet monitor Netblocks citing live metrics. This is "likely to limit freedom of assembly and the public's ability to seek information," Netblocks said.

The top diplomats of the United States and Britain called for adherence to the rule of law.

"We just want to make sure that whatever happens in Pakistan is consistent with the rule of law, with the constitution," U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during a joint news conference with British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

Protesters set vehicles on fire and partially or fully destroyed some public and private properties in response to Khan's arrest earlier on May 9 as he appeared in court in Islamabad on one of multiple corruption cases filed against him since he was toppled more than a year ago.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that Khan had been arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) after he ignored notices to turn himself in.

Fawad Chaudhry, a senior leader of Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e Insaf (PTI) party, said the former prime minister was grabbed from the Islamabad High Court building and pushed into a police vehicle by agents from the NAB in what he described as a "kidnapping."

PTI called on Pakistanis across the country to take to the streets in protest. "This is the time to save your country," PTI said.

Shortly after Khan's arrest police used water cannons and tear gas against his supporters who gathered to protest in several cities across Pakistan, including Lahore and Karachi.

One protester was killed and 12 people were injured, including six police officers, in the southern city of Quetta, said provincial Home Minister Ziaullah Langove, according to Reuters.

"Khan is accused of commission of the offense of corruption and corrupt practices," NAB said in a statement.

Khan has rejected the accusation as politically motivated.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Khan was arrested for being implicated in a corruption scandal known as the Al-Qadir Trust Case, which centers on the granting of land through a trust owned by Khan and his wife.

The arrest comes after Khan accused a senior army general on May 7 of being involved in an attempt on his life last year.

Khan, who still enjoys huge popularity as the main opposition leader, was wounded in a gun attack in November while leading a political march toward Islamabad. One of Khan’s supporters was killed and several others were wounded in the shooting.

A former cricket star turned Islamist politician, Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament in April and has been leading the opposition since then.

Khan, 70, claimed he was toppled in a plot by Sharif and the United States. Both deny involvement in Khan's ouster.

He was disqualified from holding public office for five years in October by the elections commission after it concluded he had unlawfully sold state gifts and concealed assets as premier, charges he has rejected as politically motivated.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and AP