Internet service suspended in Pakistan as protests erupt after ex-PM Imran Khan’s arrest

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Pakistan has suspended mobile internet service and restricted access to social media platforms across the country as protests erupted after the arrest of former prime minister and opposition leader Imran Khan on Tuesday.

Imran Khan, the chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party, was arrested by paramilitary forces outside the Islamabad High Court where he had gone to attend a hearing in a corruption case.

The case relates to allegations that Imran Khan and his wife received billions of rupees from a real estate firm for legalizing Rs 50 billion in illegal assets.

Imran Khan has denied the charges and accused the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of political victimization.

His arrest sparked violent protests by his supporters in several cities, including Islamabad, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Karachi, Quetta and Peshawar.

The protesters blocked roads, burned tyres, attacked police vehicles and damaged public property. They also chanted slogans against the government and the military establishment.

At least one protester was killed and several others were injured in clashes with security forces.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) confirmed that it had suspended mobile broadband services across the country on the instructions of the interior ministry.

It recommended against the use of network disruptions and social media restrictions to limit political speech, given their disproportionate impact on fundamental rights including freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

The suspension of internet service and social media access has hampered communication and information flow among the protesters and the public.

It has also raised concerns about the transparency and accountability of the authorities in dealing with the situation.

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