UK, US and other countries issue warnings to citizens over Pakistan unrest after Imran Khan’s arrest

·2-min read

The UK, US, and Canada have issued travel advisories to their citizens in Pakistan following former prime minister Imran Khan’s dramatic arrest.

On Tuesday Mr Khan was dragged from a court in Islamabad in a development that subsequently saw his supporters clashing with the police across the country.

The 71-year-old opposition leader was appearing in court on multiple graft charges brought by the Islamabad police when 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.

The arrest of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief deepened the political turmoil in the country.

Violent demonstrations followed in which at least one person was killed in the southwestern city of Quetta, and dozens were wounded in various parts of the country.

Following the large scale demonstrations, the US embassy issued a travel advisory to its citizens, reported ARY news.

“The US embassy is monitoring earlier reports of clashes between demonstrators and police in Islamabad and also sporadic demonstrations underway or being planned elsewhere throughout Pakistan,” the advisory said.

It added that all consular appointments have been cancelled for Wednesday and asked US citizens to exercise heightened vigilance and avoid locations with large crowds, review personal security plans, carry identification and follow requests from law enforcement.

A similar advisory was issued by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

It asked British citizens to avoid all political demonstrations, large crowds of people and public events and be prepared to change plans as necessary.

“Public demonstrations are common in Pakistan. You should keep track of the local news. Protests can occur with little warning and while most remain peaceful, they can turn violent and escalate quickly,” the advisory said.

Canada’s embassy asked its citizens and diplomatic staff to also exercise a high degree of caution in Pakistan citing unpredictable security situations, a threat of terrorism, civil unrest, sectarian violence, and kidnapping.

Mobile internet and major social media platforms have been shut down across the country, reported Dawn.

PTI member Shah Mahmood Qureshi said that while protests would continue across the country, he called upon supporters to remain peaceful.

“Peaceful protest is your constitutional right, keep it going. But don’t take the law into your own hands,” he said while speaking to the media outside the Police Lines Guest House in Islamabad.

Mr Khan is expected in court later Wednesday for a hearing on keeping him in custody for up to 14 days.