Pakistan cracks down on Imran Khan’s supporters after violence
Police in Pakistan have arrested hundreds of supporters of ousted Prime Minister Imran Khan for violence after his arrest on corruption charges, authorities said on Wednesday, deepening a political crisis in the nuclear-armed country, Reuters reported.
Tuesday’s arrest of the former cricket hero, and Pakistan’s most popular politician according to opinion polls, came at a precarious time for the country that is facing a shortage of foreign exchange and a months-long delay of an IMF bailout.
Mobile data services were shut for a second day while Twitter, YouTube and Facebook were disrupted, as security forces tried to restore order after violence killed one person late on Tuesday.
The government said supporters of Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party had attacked important state buildings and damaged private and public vehicles. Police said 945 of his supporters had been arrested in Punjab province after 25 police vehicles and more than 14 government buildings were set on fire, read the report.
“This can’t be tolerated, the law will take its course,” Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal told a news conference. “These violent attacks were not the outcome of any public outpouring, they were planned by the PTI rank and file.”
Authorities in three of Pakistan’s four provinces have imposed an emergency order banning all gatherings after Khan’s supporters clashed with police.
Khan, 70, was arrested from the Islamabad High Court by Pakistan’s anti-corruption agency. Police said a court hearing would take place at the police guest house where he was being held in the Islamabad police lines area, Reuters reported.
PTI has called for supporters to gather in the capital and for a “shutdown” across the country of 220 million.
His arrest came a day after the powerful military rebuked him for repeatedly accusing a senior military officer of trying to engineer his assassination and the former armed forces chief of being behind his removal from power last year.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said in an editorial that “the nature and locus of the protests that broke out following Mr Khan’s arrest yesterday signal that public anger is also directed at the military”.
Khan was due to appear for two hearings on Wednesday, Geo News reported, including for a corruption case related to property and another case that alleges Khan unlawfully sold state gifts during his 2018-22 tenure as premier. Khan has denied wrongdoing.
The Pakistani rupee fell 1.3% to a record-low of 288.5 against the U.S. dollar on Wednesday, while the 100-index of the Pakistan Stock Exchange dropped 0.7% in early trading before recouping its losses.
An International Monetary Fund bailout package for Pakistan has been delayed for months even though its foreign exchange reserves are barely enough to cover a month’s imports, Reuters reported.
PTI Vice Chairman Shah Mahmood Qureshi said the party’s senior leadership was in Islamabad to meet Khan and would approach the Supreme Court to challenge an Islamabad High Court order that deemed Khan’s arrest legal.
“We continue to call PTI family workers, supporters and the people of Pakistan onto the streets for peaceful protest against this unconstitutional behaviour,” Qureshi wrote on Twitter.
The protests have disrupted business in several cities. In Peshawar, chicken seller Malagul Khan said his shop and others were destroyed in the clashes, Reuters reported.
Raja Imran, 25, also a Peshawar resident, said, “There is total chaos across the country … There are exams going on and school children will suffer”.
Khan was ousted as prime minister in April 2022 in a parliamentary no-confidence vote. He has not slowed his campaign against the ouster even though he was wounded in a November attack on his convoy as he led a protest march to Islamabad calling for snap general elections.
The corruption case is one of more than 100 registered against Khan since his ouster after four years in power. In most of the cases, Khan faces being barred from holding public office if convicted, with a national election scheduled for November, read the report.
“Imran Khan will have to face the law and if he is cleared he will be contesting elections and if he is found guilty he will have to face the consequences,” Iqbal, the minister, 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.
Two security force members killed in Pakistan suicide bombing
Two members of Pakistan’s security forces were killed and 19 others injured on Saturday when a suicide bomber riding an explosive-laden motorcycle targeted their convoy in the Chahkan area of Dera Ismail Khan district, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, an official said.
Two security personnel were killed and 19 others were injured. Three of the wounded were said to be in critical condition, officials said.
They said the injured were transferred to the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar.
Local media reports the entire area has been cordoned off and law-enforcement agencies have launched an investigation into the attack.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.
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