At least four people have died and hundreds have been detained during violent protests in Pakistan over the arrest of Imran Khan – the country’s former prime minister – who has been remanded in custody for eight days.
A court hearing to determine whether Mr Khan could be detained for up to 14 days took place today at the police compound where he is being held, authorities said.
A judge decided he can be held in custody for questioning on corruption charges for just over a week.
Pakistan’s GEO television broadcast footage showing Mr Khan appearing before the judge inside the temporary courtroom. The former premier was seen seated in a chair, holding documents, and appeared tired.
The 70-year-old was arrested by security forces at the High Court in the capital on Tuesday and dragged into an armoured vehicle and driven away.
Violent clashes have since erupted between his supporters and police in several cities, resulting in fatalities – one in the southern city of Quetta, and three others in Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan.
Authorities in three of Pakistan’s four provinces have imposed an emergency order banning all gatherings following the violence.
Two provinces have asked the federal government to deploy troops to restore order.
Police said 945 of Mr Khan’s supporters have been arrested in Punjab province, more than 130 officers have been injured, 25 police vehicles set on fire, and around 14 government buildings severely damaged and looted.
In response to Mr Khan’s arrest, his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party called for peaceful demonstrations across the country.
“We continue to call PTI family workers, supporters and the people of Pakistan onto the streets for peaceful protest against this unconstitutional behaviour,” said PTI vice chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi.
He added the party’s leadership is in Islamabad and would be seeking to challenge Mr Khan’s detention at the country’s supreme court.
Mr Khan’s supporters in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province have been asked to gather in the city of Swabi to leave for Islamabad as part of a planned protest march.
Videos seen by Sky News in Pakistan show army bases being broken into by civilians and army vehicles being set alight in Lahore and Rawalpindi.
The home of Lieutenant General Salman Fayyaz Ghania – a top army chief – in the eastern city of Lahore was set on fire.
On Wednesday morning, police said at least 2,000 protesters were still surrounding the house, chanting slogans including, “Khan is our red line and you have crossed it”.
In the port city of Karachi, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Mr Khan’s supporters.
“This can’t be tolerated, the law will take its course,” planning minister Ahsan Iqbal told a news conference. “These violent attacks were not the outcome of any public outpouring, they were planned by the PTI rank and file.”
Internet services have been suspended across the country and access to Twitter, YouTube and Facebook have been disrupted, according to officials at Pakistan’s telecommunication authority.
Mr Khan’s arrest came a day after the country’s powerful military criticised him for repeatedly accusing a senior military officer of trying to engineer his assassination and the former armed forces chief of being behind his removal from power last April.
He had recorded a video message before heading to Islamabad, claiming officials were out for his arrest to prevent him from campaigning.
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The cricketing hero-turned-politician – who has been pushing for new elections – has denounced the cases against him, which include terrorism charges, as a politically motivated plot by his successor as prime minister, Shahbaz Sharif.
He faces being barred from holding public office if convicted, with a general election scheduled to take place in November.
“Imran Khan will have to face the law and if he is cleared he will be contesting elections and if he is found guilty he will have to face the consequences,” said Mr Iqbal.
The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office has warned of further disruption in the country, while Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said Britain is monitoring the situation in Pakistan carefully.
“The arrest of the former prime minister is an internal matter for Pakistan. We support peaceful democratic processes and adherence to the rule of law and we are monitoring the situation carefully,” said Mr Sunak.