Pakistan's Supreme Court Thursday ordered the immediate release of former Prime Minister Imran Kahn, ruling his Tuesday arrest was illegal, as violent protests have erupted opposing his detainment. Photo by Bilawal Arbab/EPA-EFE
May 11 (UPI) -- Pakistan's Supreme Court has ordered the immediate release of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, ruling his arrest, which has triggered violent unrest in the country, was illegal.
The three-judge panel ordered Khan released to the Police Lines Guest House and set him to appear before the Islamabad High Court on Friday, after he was arrested by nearly 100 paramilitary troops when he appeared at the court on a corruption charge on Tuesday.
The court also established that no one should be arrested on the high court's premises as Chief Justice Umar Ata Bandial said the National Accountability Bureau had broken the law in carrying out Khan's arrest.
"What dignity remains of the court if 90 people entered its premises? How can any individual be arrested from court premises?" Bandial said.
Khan was remanded in custody for eight days after the Islamabad High Court ruled that the NAB acted within the law as it arrested the 70-year-old former cricket star and leader of Pakistan's PTI party, on charges that Bahria Town, the country's largest real estate developer, allotted land worth $6.46 million to a trust owned by Khan and his wife.
He was also indicted Wednesday in a separate corruption case alleging he "deliberately concealed" details of gifts from foreign officials when he was prime minister well as the proceeds from selling them.
Bandial alluded to protests in response to Khan's arrest that escalated into violence and prompted Pakistan's government to increase military deployment in response.
"There have been incidents of violence after your arrest," said Bandial. "We want peace in the country.
Khan responded that he wasn't aware of what had happened in the country since he was detained.
"I was caught as if I am a terrorist. How am I responsible for the protests?" Khan said. "We only want elections in the country."
Police said they had arrested 1,300 people and 290 people had been injured in the violence. Those arrested included Khan ally former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, who was detained early Thursday, while Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party spokesperson Fawad Chaudhry and former finance minister Asad Umar, were arrested Wednesday.
The PTI leaders were arrested "for inciting arson and violent protests under a well-thought-out plan for threatening peace," according to police in Islamabad.
Schools across the country have been closed with students' year-end exams postponed.
The Pakistan Army warned protestors that it would not stand by amid a wave of attacks against army properties and installations along with the chanting of anti-army slogans.
"Any further attack on the army, including all law enforcement agencies, military and state installations and properties, will be severely retaliated against," the military said in a statement.
"The full responsibility of which will be on the very group that wants to push Pakistan into civil war."
In Peshawar in the north of the country, seven people were killed and dozens were hurt as Khan supporters fought with police, local government officials said. Another person was fatally shot in Quetta at a military inspection post.
One person was killed in a fire in Lahore where petrol bombs were thrown outside the home of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and several government buildings were attacked.