Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was arrested on Tuesday over a corruption case involving the Al-Qadir University Trust, a charity run by him and his wife Bushra Bibi. The National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the country’s anti-graft watchdog, said Khan was detained for causing a loss of more than $239 million to the national treasury.
Khan, who is the leader of the main opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), was arrested while he was appearing in a court in Islamabad for another case. He has been facing more than 100 cases, including corruption, terrorism and blasphemy, since he was ousted from power in April 2022 through a parliamentary vote of no confidence.
The Al-Qadir Trust case dates back to 2019, when Khan was still the prime minister.
According to the NAB, Khan and his wife obtained land worth billions of rupees from Malik Riaz, a prominent real estate developer, to build an educational institution under their trust. The NAB alleged that Khan’s government struck a deal with Riaz that involved giving him legal cover for his illicit assets in exchange for the land.
In December 2019, Riaz agreed to hand over assets, including properties worth $239 million, to the UK’s National Crime Agency in an investigation related to “dirty money”. Khan and his government were not directly linked to the case.
However, the NAB said that Khan’s involvement in the trust was a clear case of conflict of interest and abuse of power. It also said that Khan did not appear before the NAB despite being summoned several times.
Khan’s arrest sparked protests by his supporters across the country. They chanted slogans against the government and the NAB and demanded his immediate release. They also clashed with the police and burned tyres and vehicles in some areas.
Khan’s party leaders condemned his arrest and called it a “political victimization”. They said that Khan was not issued any arrest warrant before his detention and that his arrest violated the NAB laws that were amended last year. They also said that Khan was ready to cooperate with the NAB and provide all the relevant documents related to the trust.
The PTI has announced that it will launch a nationwide agitation campaign against Khan’s arrest and the government’s “anti-people” policies. It has also appealed to other opposition parties and civil society groups to join its movement.
The government has defended Khan’s arrest and said that it was done according to the law and due process. It has also accused Khan of being involved in massive corruption and money laundering during his tenure as prime minister. It has also rejected Khan’s allegations of being under foreign influence and said that it was working for the national interest and sovereignty of Pakistan.