- Pakistan’s prime minister has given authorities 72 hours to identify and arrest those involved in this week’s deadly riots.
- The riots took place after the arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan.
- The arrested will be tried by the anti-terrorist courts.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Saturday gave authorities 72 hours to identify and arrest anyone involved in violence after the arrest of former prime minister Imran Khan this week sparked deadly unrest.
Sharif said the cases would be tried by anti-terrorism courts.
“All available resources, including technological assistance and intelligence, are being used to pursue these elements. Bringing those people to justice is a test case for the government,” said the Prime Minister.
Khan left the court premises late on Friday and proceeded to his hometown Lahore amid heavy security after the court granted him bail. His arrest on Tuesday in a land scam case, which the Supreme Court on Thursday found “void and illegal”, sparked fierce protests from his supporters.
READ Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan returns home after arrest and riots
They stormed military facilities, set fire to the state broadcaster’s building, smashed buses, ransacked the home of a high-ranking army official and attacked other facilities, resulting in the deployment of the army in many cities.
More than 2,800 were arrested, 152 police were injured, 74 police vehicles were vandalized and set on fire and 22 government buildings, including police stations and offices, were damaged, police in Pakistan’s most populous province, Punjab, said.
At least eight people were killed in the violence, a spasm of unrest in a country grappling with an economic crisis, record inflation, anemic growth and delayed IMF funding.
Following Sharif’s announcement, the Punjab government released pictures of unidentified protesters who took part in Wednesday’s attack on the military’s residence.
Before leaving court on Friday, Khan welcomed the court’s bail decision and said the judiciary was Pakistan’s only defense against the “law of the jungle”.
“I must say that I expected this from our judicial system, because the only hope left. the only thin line between the banana republic and democracy is the judicial system,” he told reporters in the court building.
Before he returned to Lahore, authorities cordoned off the military compound there, which had been the focus of pro-Khan protests. He was escorted home by crowds of supporters showering his car with rose petals.
Khan, 70, is a cricket star-turned-politician who was ousted as prime minister in a parliamentary no-confidence vote in April 2022 and is Pakistan’s most popular leader in opinion polls. He denies the accusations of bribery made against him.
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter were unavailable in Pakistan on Saturday, Reuters reporters reported, after access was briefly restored late on Friday.
The interior ministry had ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to suspend mobile broadband services across the country and block access to three social media networks on Tuesday evening.