Imran Khan appears in court as Pakistan braces for violence
Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Imran Khan appeared in court Wednesday, a day after he was dragged from another court and arrested in Islamabad, and his supporters clashed with police across the country.
A judge was asked to approve keeping the 70-year-old opposition leader in custody for up to 14 days.
Khan, who lost power last year but remains the country’s most popular opposition figure, is the seventh former prime minister to be arrested in Pakistan. His arrest deepened political turmoil and sparked violent demonstrations on Tuesday, Associated Press reported.
At least two people were killed in the overnight violence, one in the southwestern city of Quetta and the other in northwestern Pakistan, and dozens were wounded in various parts of the country.
In eastern Punjab province, where authorities said 157 police officers were injured in clashes with Khan supporters, the local government asked the army to step in and restore order.
Pakistan’s GEO television broadcast footage showing Khan appearing before a judge at a temporary court inside a police compound Wednesday. The former premier was seen seated in a chair, holding documents. He appeared calm but tired.
The judge is expected to rule on the request for a 14-day detention later in the day. Meanwhile, Khan’s legal team challenged his arrest before the Islamabad High Court, seeking his release.
Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party had called for demonstrators to remain peaceful, hours after mobs angered over the dramatic arrest set fire to the residence of a top army general in the eastern city of Lahore.
When he was arrested on Tuesday, Khan was appearing in court on multiple graft charges brought by Islamabad police. As he showed up in court, dozens of agents from the National Accountability Bureau backed by paramilitary troops stormed the courtroom, breaking windows after Khan’s guards refused to open the door.
Khan’s supporters attacked the military’s headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi near the capital, Islamabad, but did not reach the main building housing the offices of army chief Gen. Asim Munir.
Other demonstrators tried to reach the prime minister’s residence in Lahore, but were driven off by baton-wielding police. Others attacked vehicles carrying troops and hit armed soldiers with sticks. So far, police and soldiers have not fired at protesters.
The military has not commented on the attacks on its facilities. None of the leaders from Khan’s party denounced the attacks on the military.
A police statement Wednesday said officers in eastern Punjab province arrested 945 Khan supporters since Tuesday — including Asad Umar, a senior leader from Khan’s party. Dozens of Khan supporters were also detained in Islamabad, Karachi, Peshawar and elsewhere.
Shah Mahmood Qureshi, senior vice president from Khan’s party, appealed for peaceful demonstrations Wednesday, urging followers: “Don’t damage public property, don’t attack offices, as we are peace lovers.” He said the party is considering challenging Khan’s arrest in the Supreme Court.
By morning, police said some 2,000 protesters still surrounded the fire-damaged residence in Lahore of Lt. Gen. Salman Fayyaz Ghani, a top regional commander. They chanted slogans at the military, including “Khan is our red line and you have crossed it.” Ghani and his family members were moved to a safer place when the mob on Tuesday first attacked their sprawling house.
Police deployed in force across the country, and placed shipping containers on a road leading to the sprawling police compound in Islamabad where Khan is being held and where he appeared before a judge at the temporary court placed there for security reasons, according to the government.
Amid violence, Pakistan’s telecommunication authority on Tuesday blocked social media, including Twitter. The government also suspended internet service in Islamabad and other cities. Classes at some private schools were canceled for Wednesday.
Rights group Amnesty International said it was alarmed by reports of Pakistani authorities blocking access to mobile internet networks and social media — Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube are suspended for a second day. Amnesty urged authorities to show restraint, saying clashes between law enforcement and Khan’s supporters risk human rights violations.
Pakistan, Russia launch direct shipping service
Pakistan and Russia have launched a direct shipping service, for their first time in their bilateral trade history, which Islamabad and Moscow hope will boost trade ties between the two countries.
On Saturday, following an inauguration ceremony, a cargo ship carrying 36,000 tons of goods left Karachi port for St Petersburg. The ship is expected to arrive in the Russian port city in 18 days.
Later this week, a tanker carrying Russian crude oil is expected to reach Karachi.
Pakistan’s minister of state for petroleum and energy, Musaddik Malik, told the media that this is the first direct shipping line between the two countries.
“We want to make it clear Pakistan is not in anyone’s camp. We try to do trade with the USA, we are told we are in the USA camp. We do business with China, we are told we have aligned with China. The truth is we are only doing what is in the interest of Pakistan,” Malik said.
“We are only trying to get cheap oil for our energy needs from Russia,” he said.
Over 3,600 boxes of silkworms distributed to Herat farmers this year
Herat Directorate of Agriculture and Livestock says more than 3,500 boxes of silkworms have been distributed to farmers this year in Zinda Jan, Injil, Guzara and Pashtun Zarghun districts of the province.
This directorate has said that 80 percent of silk work is done in Zinda Jan district.
“We were able to grow about 3,600 boxes with the help of institutions, about 80 percent of which we have grown in Zinda Jan district,” said Khalil Ahmad, general director of Herat agriculture directorate.
“About 20 percent of silkworms have been grown in Injil, Guzara and Pashtun Zarghun districts, which has had good results and the financial status of the farmers has improved.”
The local officials said most work in the silk industry is done by women.
“Almost 60 percent of the silk industry is done by women,” said Ahmad Shah Qawami, head of the silk workers’ union for Zinda Jan district.
This year, the families who are engaged in raising silkworms hope to have good production, now that the silk season is over and many are working to separate the silk thread.
However, the farmers are not satisfied with this year’s market conditions.
“The silk market is weak this year, it was good last year, it was very advanced,” said a silk worker.
The silk industry in Herat has a history dating back 600 years, and many families have preserved this ancient profession.
Silkworms usually feed on the leaves of mulberry trees, which grow in these regions. The industry also provides a livelihood to hundreds of men and women in the area.
Two die of Congo fever in Balkh Central Hospital
Two patients died of Congo fever in Abu Ali Sinai Balkhi Hospital in Mazar-e-Sharif city, health officials said.
Reports of an outbreak of Congo fever have been recorded in a number of provinces in the north of the country.
Najibullah Tawana, head of public health of Balkh, announced the death of two people in the meeting of sectorial coordination to prevent and reduce diseases between humans and animals in the province.
“Last week, 10 cases of Congo disease were confirmed in Faryab and Jawzjan and [patients were] transferred to Abu Ali Sina Balkhi seminary hospital, but two of them have died,” said Tawana.
Meanwhile, Mawolavi Mohammad Nasim Abid, the deputy mayor of Mazar-e-Sharif, said that they monitor the cleanliness and compliance of butchers every day, and that animals are slaughtered in slaughterhouses built by this department.
According to him; standard facilities have been established for the slaughter of chickens to prevent the spread of various diseases.
Mawolavi Zabihullah Noorani, the head of Balkh culture and information, also asked the media to inform the people about the prevention of this disease and inform them about the harm of this deadly disease.
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