Former Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, a close aide of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan, was arrested on Thursday for allegedly inciting violent protests and threatening peace in the country. The arrest comes amidst worsening political turmoil that has already claimed the lives of at least eight people.
A video shared by Qureshi’s party, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), on Twitter showed plain-clothed men taking him away, with Qureshi waving at party workers before being detained. The PTI claimed that the arrest took place in the early hours of Thursday by the Islamabad police and that Qureshi was transferred to an undisclosed location. Several other PTI leaders, including Asad Umar, Fawad Chaudhry, and Jamshed Iqbal Cheema, have also been arrested.
According to the police, the arrests were made due to allegations of inciting arson and violent protests, which posed a threat to public peace. The PTI stated that all arrests were made following legal procedures and cautioned against spreading rumors and incitement among the public. The arrest of Qureshi comes just two days after Imran Khan himself was arrested by paramilitary forces on charges of corruption.
Khan’s arrest sparked widespread violent protests across the country, resulting in casualties and injuries. In response, Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif addressed the nation, vowing strict action against those involved in violence and labeling them as “state’s enemies.” The government has deployed the army in various provinces to maintain law and order.
The Pakistan Army issued a stern warning, stating that it would not allow anyone to take the law into their own hands and describing the events of May 9 as a “black chapter” in the country’s history. Khan’s supporters, who continue to protest his arrest, stormed the General Headquarters of the Army and targeted military installations.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for peace in Pakistan, urging all parties to respect the right to peaceful assembly and emphasizing the need for law enforcement agencies to uphold the rule of law.
The situation remains tense in Pakistan as the political turmoil unfolds. With key PTI leaders under arrest and ongoing protests, the country’s stability and future remain uncertain.