The president of former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan’s party was arrested in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday on charges of corruption, a government official said.
Pakistan is beset by political turmoil as Khan’s party has faced a countrywide crackdown since his own arrest on May 9 for suspected graft sparked widespread protests that saw mobs ransacking state installations, including military assets.
Pervez Elahi, president of Khan’s Tehreek-e-Insaf party, joins a long list of key PTI leaders arrested in the security swoop to halt turmoil that has threatened to worsen instability in a country reeling from a crippling financial crisis.
“Pervez Elahi is wanted in several corruption cases,” Amir Mir, caretaker information minister in the eastern province of Punjab, told Reuters. He added that Punjab’s anti-corruption department had been looking for Elahi for several days.
Elahi previously denied accusations of corruption.
Khan was freed on bail on May 12 for an initial two weeks, obtained a three-day bail extension from a high court and later a further extension from the trial court until June 19.
Dozens of top and mid-tier leaders in the PTI have been arrested alongside hundreds of Khan supporters since the violent protests of May 9. Many have quit the party after being released while other leaders remain on the run to avoid arrest.
Khan, who denies wrongdoing, says the arrests are part of a campaign to dismantle his party and that the state is using pressure tactics to force out his aides. The government denies this and says his aides were leaving of their own volition.
Khan has been embroiled in a tussle with Pakistan’s military since he was removed from power last year in a parliamentary no-confidence vote he says was orchestrated by the country’s top generals. The military denies this.