Pakistan Reader# 597, 11 May 2023
On 10 May, former Prime Minister Imran Khan was provided 8-day remand and handed over to National Accountability Board (NAB) on corruption charges. The protest and rioting continued in parts of Pakistan. Top leaders from the PTI have also been nabbed and internet services have been controlled and filtered. According to a report by Dawn, ride-hailing and online restaurant services got hit the most, 125 million Pakistanis did not have access to the internet. Army has been called in parts of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).
Mapping the protests
According to the Institute for the Study of the War (ISW), protests and riots on the first day of the arrest were mainly limited to urban centres in Punjab and limited pockets in KP, all the protesting and rioting took place near Pakistan Military Corps Commanders Headquarters. Sindh was relative peace, as per the Dawn, demonstrations were held in Karachi.
On the second day, many more towns in KP along the Indus rivers also got engulfed in rioting and protests. In Punjab, more and more satellite towns connected along Chenab and Ravi rivers reported vandalism, violence and repression. On the transit routes, Highway N-5 and M-2 connecting Islamabad and Lahore got further entrenched in the rioting. Protestors tore down a gate of the General Headquarters of the Pakistan Army in Rawalpindi, Radio Pakistan office was torched, Police Station and Governor's House were attacked in Peshawar. 14 buildings were set on fire and a cattle market was also torched on 10 May. In remote pockets of KP, Frontier Corps (FC) has faced the brunt of unrest after the arrest of Imran Khan. In Lower Dir, FC Fort was ransacked.
Responses from civil society
The government has denied any political vendetta and blamed PTI for planning and spreading anarchy. PTI, however, has denied any wrongdoing. Politicians from Jamaat-e-Islami and PML-Q requested de-escalation to help Pakistan recover from its current economic crisis. Celebrities in their outpour on social media were firm in supporting Imran Khan and condemning his victimization of being treated like a criminal. The call for the restoration of democracy and faith in one charismatic leader like Imran Khan has also divided the celebrities in Pakistan.
Malik Asad, Manzoor Ali, “Eight killed in clashes as Imran lands in NAB custody,” Dawn, 11 May 2023
Kalbe Ali, “Govt urged to restore internet as shutdown disrupts lives,” Dawn, 11 May 2023
Saleem Shahid, “Damage to public property won’t be allowed: Langove,” Dawn, 11 May 2023
Amjad Ali Shah, “At least four killed, several hurt in Peshawar protest,” Business Recorder, 11 May 2023
Oil tanker set ablaze at Lahore’ s Kalma Chowk
Peshawar Radio Pakistan building attacked
Protests in Canada