ISLAMABAD: Pakistani police Sunday arrested more than 100 supporters of opposition politician Imran Khan who entered Islamabad days before a planned protest shutdown of the capital, the interior minister said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is under growing pressure from opposition parties, mainly Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), over his children’s offshore bank accounts which were revealed in the Panama Papers leak.
Khan, a former cricketing hero, has threatened to “lock down” Islamabad on Wednesday to force Sharif to accept an inquiry into the affair.
The new protest plan comes at a sensitive time for Sharif, with the Supreme Court due to start hearing a case about the Panama Papers revelations on Tuesday.
“About 450 people entered Islamabad today,” Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan told a press conference.
“Police intercepted them but most of them ran away, many leaving their cars behind. Police arrested more than 100 of them.”
Officers seized seven Kalashnikov rifles, 21 rifle magazines, tear gas and seven bulletproof jackets, the minister said.
He said Khan’s PTI planned to occupy the Pakistan Secretariat, an office complex housing government ministries.
“They want to occupy the Pakistan Secretariat and the plan is not to allow government employees to enter,” he said.
The minister said that on Saturday night some 1,200 PTI activists tried to drive in convoy to Islamabad from the northwestern city of Peshawar. When police stopped them on the motorway they beat up officers but had to retreat when reinforcements arrived.
“The lockdown of the capital is not a crime against government, but a crime against the state.
We are a nuclear power and what impression will it make before the world if a mob comes to the capital of the country to shut it down?” the minister said.
Imran Khan denied his activists had possessed weapons.
Police have cordoned off his residence and fired tear gas during clashes there with his supporters on Sunday, an AFP photographer said.
In summer 2014 Khan led a mass protest that lasted four months. He allied himself with populist cleric Tahir-ul-Qadri to stage a sit-in outside parliament calling for the government to resign over vote-rigging allegations.
Khan called off the protest in December 2014 after Taliban militants stormed an army-run school in Peshawar and killed 154 people, most of them children. -AFP
Pakistani police, opposition supporters clash in Islamabad
ISLAMABAD: Pakistani police are using tear gas and batons to confront stone throwing supporters of cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, who are attempting to reach Khan’s residence in Islamabad for a planned protest next week.
The clashes have taken place intermittently since Friday, when the government imposed a blanket ban on all rallies and protests in the capital. They erupted again on Sunday near Khan’s suburban home. Khan has vowed to lock down Islamabad on Nov. 2 to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Sharif’s is under public pressure after several of his family members were named in the so-called Panama papers leaks as owners of offshore bank accounts.
He has refused to step down but promised to cooperate with any investigations of this issue. -AP