May 9 (Reuters) – Pakistan’s anti-corruption watchdog arrested former prime minister Imran Khan at the Islamabad High Court on Tuesday in a dramatic move that threatens fresh turmoil in the nuclear-armed nation.
Arrested footage showed scores of security personnel in riot gear escorting Khan into a van as Khan’s party called for protests across the country.
“People of Pakistan, this is the time to save your country. You will not get any other chance,” the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party tweeted.
The arrest comes at a time when ordinary Pakistanis are reeling from the worst economic crisis in decades, with record high inflation and anemic growth.
The bailout package by the International Monetary Fund has been delayed for months despite the fact that foreign exchange reserves are insufficient to cover a month’s imports.
Home Minister Rana Sanaullah told reporters that Khan was arrested by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) for not appearing “despite being served a notice”.
NAB issued warrants for Khan’s arrest on May 1, according to an order seen by Reuters. Khan has been accused of corruption and corrupt practices.
Khan’s corruption case is one of more than 100 corruption cases filed against him since he was ousted from office in a parliamentary poll in April last year. He served four of his five-year terms.
In most cases, Khan is barred from holding public office, with national elections scheduled for November.
Earlier attempts to arrest Khan from his Lahore home had led to fierce clashes between his supporters and law enforcement personnel.
Political infighting is common in Pakistan, where no prime minister has yet served a full term and the military has ruled for nearly half of the country’s history.
Shivam Patel reports in New Delhi; Editing by Andrew Heavens
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