Protests have erupted across Islamabad in response to the detention of former Prime Minister and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. Demonstrators, including PTI members and members of the general public, flocked to the streets to express their support for Khan.
The protests, however, turned violent, leading to the arrest of PTI Sindh President Ali Zedi and numerous party workers.
Social media played an important role in the protests, with many Pakistanis utilising VPNs to gain access to outlets that were, ironically, taken down. Actress Maya Ali also turned to Instagram to call for peace, encouraging people not to harm themselves or others. She emphasised the need of managing the situation rationally and avoiding violence in her post.
Enraged PTI supporters allegedly set fire to vehicles, including waterboard trucks and a jail van, and engaged in stone-pelting incidents. Police used baton charges, tear gas and water cannons to disperse the crowd, hurting both protesters and officers in the process.
Throughout the protests, activists demanded Imran Khan’s quick release, with some resorting to roadblocks and tyre burning. Mobile phone service was suspended throughout many areas due to the unrest, which also seriously disrupted traffic.
The PTI has condemned the violence and distanced itself from its supporters’ behaviour. The party has called for peaceful protests and has asked its supporters to work with law police.