Former PM Imran Khan’s party calls on supporters to ‘shut down Pakistan’

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The party of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), called on supporters to “shut down Pakistan” over his arrest earlier on Tuesday.

PTI wrote on Twitter: “”It’s your time, people of Pakistan. Khan has always stood for you, now its time to stand for him.”

Hundreds of Khan supporters blocked streets in cities and major highways across the country, including in Khan’s home town of Lahore and in northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province where police went on high alert and banned public gatherings.

A similar ban was imposed in the southwestern province of Balochistan where, in the capital Quetta, clashes between police and protesters injured at least 10 people, including six policemen, senior police official Zohaib Mohsin said.

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Protesters also blocked major roads in the port city of Karachi and police fired tear gas at protesters in the capital Islamabad, according to Reuters witnesses.

Previous attempts to arrest Khan from his Lahore home resulted in heavy clashes between his supporters and law enforcement personnel.

Political infighting is common in Pakistan, where no prime minister has yet fulfilled a full term and where the military has ruled for nearly half of the country’s history.

Khan repeated his accusations against the military on Tuesday, adding that the same senior officer, Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) Major-General Faisal Naseer, was behind the murder of a renowned Pakistani journalist in Kenya in October.

The military has denied Khan’s allegations.

The armed forces remain Pakistan’s most powerful institution, having ruled the South Asian nation directly for close to half its 75-year history through three coups. Despite its major influence, it recently said it was no longer interfering in politics.

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